The Danube river forming the border of Romania to the north and Bulgaria to the south, as captured by Sentinel-2A on 26 July 2015.
This colourful image is a topography map of a portion of the region known as Terra Sirenum, located in the southern hemisphere of Mars. The map is colour-coded, with reds and whites representing the highest topography and blues and purples the lowest.
The images shows a myriad of terrain types including cliffs, impact craters, channels carved into steep slopes, wrinkled ridges and scarps, which together reflect a rich geological history.
Perhaps the most prominent feature is the portion of uneven chaotic terrain towards the centre of the image. This is Atlantis Chaos, a lowland plain covering around 170 km by 145 km and containing a few hundred small peaks and flat-topped hills. They are thought to result from the slow erosion of a once-continuous solid plateau.
A number of impact craters occupy the scene and span a range of ages, with the most ancient with almost undetectable rims that have eroded over time. Indeed, the outline of the giant Atlantis Basin is hard to see, but lies at the centre of the image and spans over 200 km. It is connected to another large basin located further south (left) with a diameter of 175 km.
Scientists suspect that some of the craters and basins in this area may have once contained standing water. Indeed, channels carved into the slopes of the ancient basins provide evidence for the existence of water in this region’s past.
Explore this region in more detail in a new video, published today.
This image is a mosaic of four images taken by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera on 28 December 2008, 29 December 2008, 6 February 2009 and 5 January 2014. The image resolution is roughly 14 m per pixel. Read more about this region here.
This image shows the 35 m-diameter dish antenna of ESA’s deep-space tracking station at New Norcia, Australia, illuminated by ground lights against the night sky on 3 August 2015.
New Norcia (DSA-1) is part of the Agency’s Estrack ground station network; it is located 140 km north of Perth, Western Australia, about 8 km from the town of New Norcia.
Estrack is a global system of ground stations providing links between satellites in orbit and the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. The core network comprises 10 stations in seven countries.
The essential task of all ESA tracking stations is to communicate with spacecraft, transmitting commands and receiving scientific data and spacecraft status information.
Our technically advanced stations can track spacecraft almost anywhere – circling Earth, watching the Sun, orbiting at the scientifically crucial Sun–Earth Lagrange points or voyaging deep into our Solar System.
Like its sister 35 m stations at Cebreros, Spain, and Malargüe, Argentina, New Norcia station uses advanced European technology to communicate with deep-space missions such as Mars Express, Rosetta, BepiColombo and Gaia.
ESA shares Estrack capacity with other space agencies, who in turn support ESA missions. For example, NASA’s Deep Space Network routinely supports Rosetta and Mars Express, while Estrack is working with Japan’s Hayabusa-2 asteroid mission.
In recent years, Estrack has supported missions operated by China and Russia, as well as tracking the descent of NASA rovers to the surface of Mars.
This global cooperation allows all agencies to make use of a wide number of ground stations in geographically advantageous locations, maximising efficiency and boosting scientific returns for all.
In 2015, Estrack turns 40 and will celebrate four decades of linking people with spacecraft travelling to the frontiers of human knowledge.
To help mark this milestone, ESA is hosting the ‘Estrack 40th Anniversary Sound Contest’ and is inviting composers to submit their audio compositions, one of which will be selected as the new theme audio for Estrack (see link below for details).
Credit: D. O’Donnell/ESA – CC BY-SA 3.0
Today, the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager instrument on MSG-4 captured its first image of Earth. This demonstrates that Europe’s latest geostationary weather satellite, launched on 15 July, is performing well and is on its way to becoming fully operational when needed after six months of commissioning.
ESA was responsible for the initial operations after launch (the so-called launch and early orbit phase) of MSG-4 and handed over the satellite to EUMETSAT on 26 July.
The first image is a joint achievement by ESA, EUMETSAT and European space industry. For its mandatory programmes, EUMETSAT relies on ESA to develop new satellites and procure the recurrent satellites like MSG-4. This cooperation model has made Europe a world leader in satellite meteorology by making best use of the two agencies’ expertise.
Rosetta saw in 2015 while orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko at a distance of around 30 km. This view was taken on 22 January from a distance of 27.9 km from the comet centre and features the small lobe to the left, including the Hathor cliffs, and the smooth boulder-strewn neck Hapi region right of centre. Hints of the comet’s large lobe are seen in the foreground.
The image has a scale of 2.4 m/pixel and measures 2.4 km across.
This image is one of 12 selected for our “Year at a comet” gallery and has not been previously published on the ESA Portal.
This colourful bubble is a planetary nebula called NGC 6818, also known as the Little Gem Nebula. It is located in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), roughly 6000 light-years away from us. The rich glow of the cloud is just over half a light-year across — humongous compared to its tiny central star — but still a little gem on a cosmic scale.
When stars like the Sun enter retirement, they shed their outer layers into space to create glowing clouds of gas called planetary nebulae. This ejection of mass is uneven, and planetary nebulae can have very complex shapes. NGC 6818 shows knotty filament-like structures and distinct layers of material, with a bright and enclosed central bubble surrounded by a larger, more diffuse cloud.
Scientists believe that the stellar wind from the central star propels the outflowing material, sculpting the elongated shape of NGC 6818. As this fast wind smashes through the slower-moving cloud it creates particularly bright blowouts at the bubble’s outer layers.
Hubble previously imaged this nebula back in 1997 with its Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, using a mix of filters that highlighted emission from ionised oxygen and hydrogen (opo9811h). This image, while from the same camera, uses different filters to reveal a different view of the nebula. A version of the image was submitted to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Judy Schmidt.
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen (right) and his Soyuz TMA-18M crewmates Sergei Volkov (centre) and Aidyn Aimbetov (left) at Star City earlier this week, ahead of their final exams before launch to the International Space Station in a few week's time.
They are set leave Earth from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, at 04:34 GMT (06:34 CEST, 10:34 local time) on 2 September 2015 and arrive at the Space Station just six hours later.
Andreas and Aidyn’s stay will be short – they will be back on terra firma just 10 days later. They will leave Sergei on the Station and return to Earth in a different Soyuz with Gennady Padalka, who is already in space.
Week In Images
3-7 August 2015