European Space Agency Flickr Update

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Aeolus launch contract
07-09-2016 01:57 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Aeolus launch contract

The contract between ESA and Arianespace to launch the ADM-Aeolus satellite was signed on 22 July 2016 by ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, (left) and CEO of Arianespace, Stéphane Israël, (right) in the presence of Jan Woerner, ESA Director General, (centre), at ESA headquarters in Paris, France. Aeolus will be launched on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana at the end of 2017. Using novel laser technology, this new mission will provide profiles of wind, aerosols and clouds to advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and to improve weather forecasts.

Read more: Vega to launch ESA’s wind mission

Credit: ESA–Nadia Imbert-Vier, 2016

Aeolus launch contract
07-09-2016 01:57 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Aeolus launch contract

The contract between ESA and Arianespace to launch the ADM-Aeolus satellite was signed on 22 July 2016 by ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, (left) and CEO of Arianespace, Stéphane Israël, (right) in the presence of Jan Woerner, ESA Director General, (centre), at ESA headquarters in Paris, France. Aeolus will be launched on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana at the end of 2017. Using novel laser technology, this new mission will provide profiles of wind, aerosols and clouds to advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and to improve weather forecasts.

Read more: Vega to launch ESA’s wind mission

Credit: ESA–Nadia Imbert-Vier, 2016

Aeolus launch contract
07-09-2016 01:57 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Aeolus launch contract

The contract between ESA and Arianespace to launch the ADM-Aeolus satellite was signed on 22 July 2016 by ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, (left) and CEO of Arianespace, Stéphane Israël, (right) in the presence of Jan Woerner, ESA Director General, (centre), at ESA headquarters in Paris, France. Aeolus will be launched on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana at the end of 2017. Using novel laser technology, this new mission will provide profiles of wind, aerosols and clouds to advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and to improve weather forecasts.

Read more: Vega to launch ESA’s wind mission

Credit: ESA–Nadia Imbert-Vier, 2016

Mercury Transfer Module with integrated ion thrusters
07-09-2016 01:21 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Mercury Transfer Module with integrated ion thrusters

The base of ESA’s Mercury Transfer Module with its four T6 ion thrusters fully fitted for its 6.5 year journey to Mercury, along with the rest of the BepiColombo www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/BepiColombo_over… spacecraft.

The module will carry Europe’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and Japan’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter together to the Sun’s innermost planet.

“Completing the integration of the solar electric propulsion thruster floor is a major achievement for the BepiColombo project,” says project manager Ulrich Reininghaus.

The four ion thrusters are positioned at the bottom of the spacecraft, known as the ‘engine bay’, which provides the thrust during the mission’s journey, including long firing periods lasting several months at a time.

By ionising their propellant plume using electrical energy from the solar panels, the T6 thrusters can accelerate BepiColombo with an efficiency 15 times greater than a conventional chemical thruster.

The work took place at ESA’s centre in the Netherlands, the largest spacecraft testing facility in Europe.

The 22 cm-diameter T6 was designed for ESA by QinetiQ in the UK, whose expertise in electric propulsion stretches back to the 1960s.

It is a scaled-up version of the 10 cm T5 gridded ion thruster, which played a crucial role in ESA’s GOCE gravity-mapper by continuously compensating for vestigial atmospheric drag along its extremely low orbit.

Currently the Test Centre team is preparing the Large Space Simulator for a Sun simulation test planned for the end of this year.

“This will be a very challenging test,” says Georg Deutsch, ETS test programme manager. “Not only will the facility simulate a sun beam at 11000W/m2 but the facility’s vacuum pumps will have to cope with the release of Xenon gas caused by verifying the electrical propulsion system in vacuum”.

Credit: ESA–U. Reininghaus

Hubble views a cosmic oyster and pearl in NGC 1501
07-09-2016 11:59 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Hubble views a cosmic oyster and pearl in NGC 1501

The world is your oyster, as the expression goes – and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, with its advanced instruments and favourable location in orbit above Earth’s atmosphere, has far more of the Universe to explore than most.

This image was captured using Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, the camera responsible for many of the telescope’s most beautiful images. It shows the appropriately nicknamed Oyster Nebula (more formally known as NGC 1501), a candescent cloud some 5000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

The Oyster Nebula is a type of cosmic object that is essentially a giant cloud of dust and electrically charged gases. Nebulas are often made to glow, as seen here, by the radiation from a nearby star. In the case of the Oyster Nebula, that star can be seen as a yellow–orange dot at the centre of the turquoise cloud, resembling the oyster’s precious pearl.

This is a planetary nebula, meaning that it was created when its progenitor star – the ‘pearl’ – threw its outer layers of gas into space. This star is just as notable as the beautiful structure surrounding it. It is a pulsating star, meaning that its brightness varies regularly and periodically. In the case of NGC 1501’s progenitor star, this is incredibly fast, with the star’s brightness changing significantly in just half an hour.

The complexity of the Oyster Nebula’s internal structure is clearly evident in this detailed image, appearing almost webbed or bubbly. Astronomers have modelled this object in 3D and found it to be an irregularly shaped cloud filled with lumpy and bumpy structures, such as knots and bubbles of gas and clumps of dust, all knitted together.

These visible-light observations capture the glow of gases including hydrogen and nitrogen. The bright colours shown here are arbitrary. A version of this image was entered into the 2012 Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Marc Canale.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; acknowledgement: M. Canale

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