European Space Agency Flickr Update

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Testing (under)ground for Mars
17-10-2017 03:05 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Testing (under)ground for Mars

Human Spaceflight image of the week:

If life exists on Mars, it will have sought refuge underground. Trying to uncover one of the best-kept secrets in the Solar System, scientists are working a kilometre beneath the ground, with ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer joining them this week.

Teams from around the world are gathering at the UK’s Boulby Mine to test new technologies for exploring the Mars and the Moon. Almost 30 people are venturing into the deep for the fifth Mine Analogue Research (MINAR) sortie.

They have been testing a wide range of equipment for two weeks, including a robotic hammer to chisel rock and expose fresh surfaces for signs of life.

A team from the University of Leicester carefully monitors the performance of a tool that could one day be part of a Mars rover.

Matthias will take part in several more campaigns this year. Next up is ESA’s Pangaea geology field training in Lanzarote, Spain. There, the hammer will be used to pound the rocks of the Mars-like landscape to test a human–robot partnership for future planetary excursions.

In these campaigns astronauts can learn from scientists and instrument specialists how to use life-detection equipment, drills and cameras for robotic and human exploration.

Credit: ESA–L. Bessone

Hurricane Ophelia’s temperature
17-10-2017 01:50 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Hurricane Ophelia’s temperature

The Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite saw the temperature at the top of Hurricane Ophelia on 15 October 2017 as the storm approached the British Isles.

Ophelia has since been downgraded from a hurricane to a storm.

The brightness temperature of the clouds at the top of the storm, some 12–15 km above the ocean, range from about –50°C near the eye of the storm to about 15°C at the edges.

Hurricanes are one of the forces of nature that can be tracked only by satellites, providing up-to-date imagery so that authorities know when to take precautionary measures. Satellites deliver information on a storm’s extent, wind speed and path, and on key features such as cloud thickness, temperature, and water and ice content.

Sentinel-3’s Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer measures energy radiating from Earth’s surface in nine spectral bands and two viewing angles.

Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

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Webcam on Mars Express surveys high-altitude clouds

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Webcam on Mars Express surveys high-altitude clouds
17-10-2017 11:00 AM CEST

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An unprecedented catalogue of more than 21 000 images taken by a webcam on ESA’s Mars Express is proving its worth as a science instrument, providing a global survey of unusual high-altitude cloud features on the Red Planet.

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Ireland signs up to Copernicus Sentinel agreement

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Ireland signs up to Copernicus Sentinel agreement
17-10-2017 02:50 PM CEST

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ESA and Enterprise Ireland have signed an agreement that gives Ireland access to data from the Copernicus Sentinel satellites and helps Ireland to exploit these data to benefit their country.

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Webcam on Mars Express surveys high-altitude clouds

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Webcam on Mars Express surveys high-altitude clouds
17-10-2017 11:00 AM CEST

Cloud_over_Mars_small.jpg

An unprecedented catalogue of more than 21 000 images taken by a webcam on ESA’s Mars Express is proving its worth as a science instrument, providing a global survey of unusual high-altitude cloud features on the Red Planet.

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European Space Agency Flickr Update

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Clouds over lava flows on Mars
16-10-2017 11:19 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Clouds over lava flows on Mars

Space Science image of the week:

Diffuse, water-ice clouds, a hazy sky and a light breeze. Such might have read a weather forecast for the Tharsis volcanic region on Mars on 22 November 2016, when this image was taken by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.

Clouds, most likely of water-ice, and atmospheric haze in the sky are coloured blue/white in this image.

Below, 630 km west of the volcano Arsia Mons, the southernmost of the Tharsis volcanoes, outlines of ancient lava flows dominate the surface. The dark streaks are due to the action of wind on the dark-coloured basaltic sands, while redder patches are wind blown dust. A handful of small impact craters can also be seen.

The Trace Gas Orbiter, a joint effort between ESA and Roscosmos, arrived at Mars on 19 October last year. Since March it has been repeatedly surfing in and out of the atmosphere, generating a tiny amount of drag that will steadily pull it into a near-circular 400 km altitude orbit. It is expected to begin its full science operational phase from this orbit in early 2018.

Prior to this ‘aerobraking’ phase, several test periods were assigned to check the four science instrument suites from orbit and to refine data processing and calibration techniques.

The false-colour composite shown here was made from images taken with the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System, CaSSIS, in the near-infrared, red and blue channels.

The image is centred at 131°W / 8.5°S. The ground resolution is 20.35 m/pixel, and the image is about 58 km across. At the time the image was taken, the altitude was 1791 km, yielding a ground track speed of 1.953 km/s.

Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

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Integral sees blast travelling with gravitational waves

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Integral sees blast travelling with gravitational waves
16-10-2017 04:00 PM CEST

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ESA’s Integral satellite recently played a crucial role in discovering the flash of gamma rays linked to the gravitational waves released by the collision of two neutron stars.

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