A flame generated in space for the BASS-II combustion experiment on the International Space Station.
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst posted this photo on Twitter, commenting: "This is a flame we generated in space. It helps to increase fire safety on Earth."
More about BASS: http://spaceflightsystems.grc.nasa.gov/SOPO/ICHO/IRP/MSG/BASS/
Seven months after launch and following extensive commissioning, ESA’s Gaia satellite is ready to start its scientific mission. The science phase formally began on 18 July 2014, meaning that Gaia is now under the responsibility of the Mission Manager, William O’Mullane, and the Science Operations Centre team (pictured above) at ESA’s European Space Astronomy Centre in Madrid, Spain.
On this occasion, the Gaia flag also changed home. The Gaia Project Manager, Giuseppe Sarri, handed it over to William O’Mullane. This symbolic handover marks a new chapter in the mission’s story.
This is one of two flags that flew at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana during the weeks leading up to the launch on 19 December 2013. Shortly after, the other flag was sent to ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, where the Mission Operations Centre has since been taking care of Gaia’s health.
While the Mission Operations Centre receives the data from the satellite, the Science Operations Centre coordinates their distribution to the Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, who will eventually produce the Gaia catalogue.
The main goal of Gaia is to map the position and velocity of more than a billion stars in our Galaxy. Astronomers will be able to build the most precise 3D map ever of the Milky Way, unearthing many clues about its formation and evolution.
The design on the flag represents the attempt of humankind to reach for the stars, an enduring fascination that resonates with the scientific goals of the Gaia mission. Originally designed for the launcher fairing, the logo will now fly at two of ESA’s establishments in Europe, looking forward to Gaia’s measurements and to the many discoveries to come.
It would be impossible for Rosetta to reach its destination without the ‘spacecraft navigators’ – the flight dynamics experts who predict and determine its trajectory, prepare orbit manoeuvres and determine its attitude.
The experts work with data from ground stations and from the spacecraft itself to determine the precise locations of Rosetta and its destination comet, feeding this information back to the operations teams who ‘fly’ the missions.
This demands precise, careful work and every calculation is double-checked to ensure the outcome is correct and accurate.
Rosetta’s journey to the comet has been assisted by use of the ‘delta DOR’ – for Delta Differential One-way Ranging – technique. Measurements from a pair of widely separated ground stations determine the position of the spacecraft to within less than a few km.
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 3 August from a distance of 285 km. The image resolution is 5.3 metres/pixel.
Stunning close up detail focusing on a smooth region on the ‘base’ of the ‘body’ section of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image was taken by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera and downloaded today, 6 August. The image clearly shows a range of features, including boulders, craters and steep cliffs.
The image was taken from a distance of 130 km and the image resolution is 2.4 metres per pixel.
A drop in thruster temperature signals that the Rosetta spacecraft has arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a 10-year journey through space.
Follow the mission: rosetta.esa.int
Closely watched by the METERON Ops-Com 2 team located at the European Space Operations Centre, in Germany, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, onboard the International Space Station, drives the Eurobot rover at ESA's research and technology centre, in the Netherlands. METERON stands for 'Multi-purpose End To End Robotic Operations Network'.
The Meteron project is conducting a series of experiments to test new communications, robotics and operations technologies.
The goal of Meteron is to validate the concepts and technologies essential to human exploration of celestial bodies.
Read more about the experiment: blogs.esa.int/rocketscience
Connect with the Meteron team on Twitter via @esa_meteron
A Galileo FOC spacecraft undergoes fuelling at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Two Galileo FOC spacecraft are being prepared for launch with Arianespace Flight VS09, scheduled for launch on 21 August.
Read more about launching Galileo
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov participate in the last ever onboard training for the docking of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).
Launched from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana on 30 July, ATV-5 is set to automatically dock with the International Space Station on 12 August under the guidance of the two Alexanders.
ATV-5 is the fifth and final ATV spacecraft and delivers over seven tonnes of cargo to the ISS.
Follow the ATV-5 mission in our blog: blogs.esa.int/atv
Connect with Alexander Gerst: alexandergerst.esa.int
This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the globular cluster IC 4499. Globular clusters are big balls of old stars that orbit around their host galaxy. It has long been believed that all the stars within a globular cluster form at the about same time, a property which can be used to determine the cluster's age.
For more massive globulars however, detailed observations have shown that this is not entirely true — there is evidence that they instead consist of multiple populations of stars born at different times. One of the driving forces behind this behaviour is thought to be gravity: more massive globulars manage to grab more gas and dust, which can then be transformed into new stars. IC 4499 is a somewhat special case.
Its mass lies somewhere between low-mass globulars, which show a single generation build-up, and the more complex and massive globulars which can contain more than one generation of stars.
By studying objects like IC 4499 astronomers can therefore explore how mass affects a cluster's contents. Astronomers found no sign of multiple generations of stars in IC 4499 — supporting the idea that less massive clusters in general only consist of a single stellar generation.
Hubble observations of IC 4499 have also helped to pinpoint the cluster's age: observations of this cluster from the 1990s suggested a puzzlingly young age when compared to other globular clusters within the Milky Way. However, since those first estimates new Hubble data been obtained, and it has been found to be much more likely that IC 4499 is actually roughly the same age as other Milky Way clusters at approximately 12 billion years old.
Week In Images
04-08 August 2014