European Space Agency Flickr Update

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XMM-Newton slew tracks
06-06-2017 04:40 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

XMM-Newton slew tracks

Space science image of the week:

This blue ‘ball of string’ actually records 2114 movements made by ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope as it shifted its gaze from one X-ray object to another between August 2001 and December 2014.

Orbiting in space since 1999, XMM-Newton is studying high-energy phenomena in the Universe, such as black holes, neutron stars, pulsars and stellar winds.

Even when moving its focus between objects, the space telescope collects scientific data, revealing X-ray sources across the entire sky. After correcting for overlaps between slews, 84% of the sky has now been covered.

The plot is in galactic coordinates such that the centre of the plot corresponds to the centre of the Milky Way. The slew paths pass predominantly through the ecliptic poles, indicated by the density of overlapping slew paths to the top left and bottom right.

The image was created as part of the XMM-Newton Slew Survey Catalogue release in March 2017, and which was featured as our Space Science Image of the Week last month.

This week, many scientists studying the X-ray universe are meeting to discuss the latest in high-energy astrophysics, including discoveries from current X-ray missions, as well as expectations of future missions.

Over 5000 papers have been published on XMM-Newton results to date. Scientists are also looking forward to the next generation of X-ray satellite, such as ESA’s Athena, the Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics, which is expected to be launched towards the end of the next decade.

Credit: ESA/XMM-Newton/A. Read/R. Saxton

Phoning home
06-06-2017 03:11 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Phoning home

Human spaceflight image of the week:

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive safely back on Earth after six months in space? ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet makes a quick call to loved ones with a satellite phone upon landing in the Kazakh steppe on 2 June 2017.

Along with cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, he landed at 14:10 GMT after a routine four-hour journey from the International Space Station. Fellow astronaut Peggy Whitson of NASA, who launched with Thomas and Oleg in December, did not return with the duo because her mission was extended.

Like all returning astronauts, Thomas’s vital signs were immediately checked by medical staff at the landing site. Per tradition, Oleg and Thomas then signed their Soyuz landing capsule before leaving the site. The crew were welcomed by the Kazakh government in an official ceremony.

Thomas then boarded a plane to ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, for debriefing and more in-depth tests to understand how his body is adapting to being back on Earth.

During his six-month Proxima mission, Thomas took part in over 60 scientific experiments for ESA and France’s space agency CNES and the international Station partners. The mission is part of ESA’s vision to use Earth-orbiting spacecraft as a place to live and work for the benefit of European society while using the experience to prepare for future voyages of exploration further into the Solar System.

Thomas is doing well and has since given interviews and held a press conference on 6 June on his experience on the Station, his thoughts on returning, and his hopes for future missions to Mars and beyond.

The next ESA astronaut to launch to space is Italian Paolo Nespoli at the end of July.

Credit: ESA–S. Corvaja, 2017

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