More than 8 500 visitors attended the ESTEC Open Day on Sunday 6 October 2013. Under a sunny sky, visitors were free to explore ESA's largest establishment, meet astronauts and talk to space scientists and engineers. Exhibitions and attractions were located across the sprawling site.
ESA astronauts past and present attending the ESTEC Open Day on Sunday 6 October 2013: from left to right, Reinhold Ewald, André Kuipers and Ulf Merbold during the event's opening ceremony. Speaking later in the day, they shared their experiences of flying on Mir, the International Space Station and the Shuttle's Spacelab respectively. Ulf Merbold is the very first ESA astronaut to fly in space, three decades ago this year.
Dutch ESA astronaut André Kuipers signing autographs during the ESTEC Open Day on Sunday 6 October 2013. A popular attraction during the day, André spoke about his two space missions, in 2004 and 2011-12, and answered questions about his day-to-day life in space.
Visitors to the Rosetta stand at the ESTEC Open Day on 6 October 2013 watched ‘cook a comet’ demonstrations to illustrate aspects of comet science that the Rosetta mission will explore at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in 2014. The comet analogue was made by mixing together dirt, dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide), water, and chocolate sauce to represent the organic chemistry of comets. Thick gloves are needed to handle the dry ice to protect against cold ‘burns’. The final result was a dark, lumpy comet-like nucleus with active gas jets where the dry ice is exposed at the surface. Experts from the Rosetta mission were on hand to answer questions - including ESA Space Science Editor Emily Baldwin, seen here.
Young visitors to the ESTEC Open Day on Sunday 6 October 2013 wear 3D glasses to enjoy an immersive tour of the International Space Station, courtesy of ESA's Software Systems Laboratory.
A popular attraction for young visitors at the ESTEC Open Day on Sunday 6 October : this face painting table at the Escape recreation centre gave them green alien-style 'space faces'. The inflatable planetarium is visible in the background.
The doors of the ESTEC Test Centre open so that the waiting crowd can see the BepiColombo spacecraft within, set to head to Mercury in 2015, a popular highlight of the ESTEC Open Day on Sunday 6 October 2013.
A young visitor to the ESTEC Open Day on Sunday 6 October 2013 takes a look through a telescope lens, courtesy of the Sterrenwacht Copernicus club.
With nearly 2700 personnel, ESTEC is the size of a small town, and therefore has its own fire engine. Visitors to the ESTEC Open Day on Sunday 6 October 2013 were able to try out shooting its fire hoses for themselves.
Visitors at the ESTEC Open Day on Sunday 6 October peer out of a replica of the International Space Station's single largest window – called the Cupola – at the Erasmus Centre, ESTEC's facility for human spaceflight. The Cupola affords generous views of Earth for both scientific and recreational purposes: taking photographs is one of the ISS crew's favourite hobbies.