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.
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.
Two-frame enhanced image taken on 15 May 2016 by Rosetta’s navigation camera, some 9.9 km from the centre of the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The scale at the surface is about 0.8 m/pixel and the image is about 1.5 km across.
Part of the small comet lobe is visible on the right and a portion of the large lobe on the left.
These observations were performed in a three-week period during which Rosetta flew very close to the nucleus to search for xenon, an important tracer of the early Solar System’s composition.
The blend of xenon found at the comet closely resembles the primordial mixture that scientists believe was brought to our planet during the early stages of Solar System formation. These measurements suggest that comets contributed about a fifth of the xenon in Earth’s ancient atmosphere.
More about this discovery: Rosetta finds comet connection to Earth’s atmosphere
This 70 km-wide crater shows interesting internal features, including a smaller crater (foreground), exposed light-toned deposits (foreground/centre), and chaotic terrain (background), as well as slumped crater walls.
The oblique perspective view was generated using data from the Mars Express high-resolution stereo camera stereo channels. This scene is part of the region imaged on 13 March 2007 and 22 February 2017 during orbits 4090 and 16648. The image mosaic is centred on 346°E/23°S, with a ground resolution of 15–17 m/pixel.
The Copernicus Sentinel-1B satellite brings us over the Gulf of Finland, with part of Finland along the top, Estonia along the bottom and Russia to the right.
The gulf is the eastern arm of the Baltic sea, stretching all the way to St Petersburg in Russia. The waters are relatively shallow, with an average depth of 38 m and a maximum of about 100 m. During winter, the waters freeze until late spring.
Satellites play an important role during this season for shipping, providing information on ice cover and type that helps icebreaker boats navigate through the frozen waters. On the right side of the image, we can see the lines where icebreakers have created straight routes through the icy waters.
In the lower right we can identify another ice-covered body of water: Lake Peipus, straddling the border of Estonia and Russia. Covering over 3550 sq km, it is the largest trans-boundary lake in Europe.
Major cities appear as clusters of bright white radar reflections across the image, such as Tallinn in the lower left and Helsinki on the opposite side if the gulf.
The Fringe workshop on advances in radar science and applications took place this week in Helsinki. The event brought together scientists who work with data like those provided by Sentinel-1 to detect changes on the ground, such as tectonic activity, the ‘breathing’ of active volcanoes or the movements of buildings.
This image, also featured on the Earth from Space video programme, was captured on 8 February 2017.
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.
ESA’s Rover Autonomy Testbed rover is being run in near darkness by Spain’s GMV company to simulate the low Sun angles experienced at the Moon’s poles.
Laboratory testing took place as part of ESA’s Lunar Scenario Concept Validation and Demonstration (Lucid) project. Now, as a next step, this and a second rover – ESA’s Heavy Duty Planetary Rover – have travelled to Tenerife in the Canary Islands for day and night testing in the volcanic, Moon-like environment of Teide National Park.
The two rovers carry navigation aids to work in both light and dark, including stereo cameras, lights, GPS, laser rangers and radar-like lidar. They can build digital 3D maps from these various sensors for both autonomous and teleoperated steering.
To follow the progress of the Lucid testing in Tenerife, follow the Twitter hashtag #DarkRover.
ESA’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, took part in Germany's 12th national Tag der Deutschen Luft- und Raumfahrtregionen (Day of Aerospace Regions) on 7 June. The series of regional events aims to foster growth and innovation in the space and aviation industries.
Rolf Densing, ESA's Director of Operations, underlined how the ESA centre can be a valuable industry partner in Europe. The day saw start-up companies pitching their ideas on Space 4.0, and experts discussing how drones have become important for industries such as air transportation, logistics and agriculture.
The photo shows, from left: Tarek Al-Wazir, Economics Minister of Germany's State of Hessen, Rolf Densing and the co-founders of the Wingcopter startup, Tom Pluemmer and Ansgar Kadura.
Week In Images
5-9 June 2017