The Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) resulting from the big X-class solar flare on 10 June 2014 as seen through the LASCO C2 instrument of the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
LASCO (Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph) is able to take images of the solar corona by blocking the light coming directly from the Sun with an occulter disk, creating an artificial eclipse within the instrument itself.
SOHO is a project of international collaboration between ESA and NASA to study the Sun from its deep core to the outer corona and the solar wind.
More about SOHO: http://soho.esac.esa.int/home.html
ESA’s Herschel space observatory has observed 132 of the known 1400 cold worlds that inhabit a region of the Solar System beyond the orbit of Neptune, some 4.5–7.5 billion km from the Sun.
These ‘trans-Neptunian objects’, or TNOs, include worlds such as Pluto, Eris, Haumea and Makemake, and make up a vast population of such objects thought to occupy these far-flung reaches of the Solar System.
TNOs are particularly cold, at around –230ºC, but these low temperatures lend themselves to observations by Herschel, which observes at far-infrared to sub-millimetre wavelengths. Indeed, the space observatory observed the thermal emission from 132 such objects during its nearly four-year lifetime.
These measurements provided their sizes and albedos (the fraction of visible light reflected from the surface), properties that are not otherwise easily accessible. The graphic presented here shows a sample of the population of TNOs observed with Herschel, arranged to showcase these properties.
What is most striking is their diversity. They range from just below 50 km to almost 2400 km in diameter; Pluto and Eris are the largest. Two worlds have distinctly elongated shapes: Haumea (seen in white) and Varuna (brown). Some even host their own moons (not shown).
The albedo measurement implies a variety of surface compositions: low albedo (brown) is an indication of dark surface materials, such as organic material, while higher albedo (white) suggests pure ices.
TNOs are thought to be some of the most primitive remnants of the planet-forming era. Thus the results of the Herschel “TNOs are cool: A survey of the trans-Neptunian region” open key time programme are being used to test different models of Solar System formation and evolution.
This image is a composite of nine photos taken 5–10 minutes after midnight on 6–7 June 2014 and shows the International Space Station with the Expedition 40 crew, including ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, orbiting 410 km above Earth. The Station passed through the northern sky, with the Big Dipper and Cygnus (the Swan) seen in the starry background.
Alexander Gerst arrived on the orbital outpost on 28 May 2014 to begin his six-month Blue Dot mission, which will see him conducting 100 experiments in many areas, including biology, biomedicine and material sciences.
The images were taken from Darmstadt, Germany, home of ESA's Space Operations Centre, and from where 15 satellites are being controlled, with 20 new satellite missions in preparation.
Image credit: Michael Khan via http://www.scilogs.de/go-for-launch/
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Selected after a worldwide competition, the new name of ESA’s recently refitted Compact Payload Test Range is Hertz – which stands for ‘Hybrid European RF antenna Test Zone’.
Announcing it, the new name is shone onto the reflectors normally used to change the shape of the signals from test antennas, as if they originated from far away across space.
A new name was sought after the redesigned facility – used to test large space antennas at ESA’s Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands – gained the ability to perform both ‘far-field’ and ‘near-field’ signal measurements, thanks to the addition of a versatile Near-Field Scanner.
More than 240 suggestions were received from around Europe and the world, from both inside the space industry and the general public.
The winning suggestion came from someone who works with the new Hertz chamber on a regular basis: ESA antenna engineer Luca Salghetti Drioli, seen right.
“Hertz is the unit of frequency, of course, used all the time within the chamber,” explains Luca. “This unit is named in turn for pioneering physicist Heinrich Hertz.
“ESTEC already has a chamber named after James Clark Maxwell, who came up with the theory of electromagnetic waves, so it seemed right to honour the man whose name is associated with the fundamental unit of frequency.
“And taking the name Hertz we can include the word ‘Hybrid’ in the acronym. The refitted chamber’s ability to support two measurement types is a first for Europe.”
On the southwestern coast of Greenland, multiple ice streams that drain the Greenland ice sheet are pictured in this satellite image.
Covering more than 2 000 000 sq km, Greenland is the world’s largest island and home to the second largest ice sheet after Antarctica.
Scientists used data from Earth-observing satellites have discovered that the rate of ice sheet melting is increasing. Between 1992 and 2012, Greenland was responsible for adding about 7 mm to the average global sea level. Many areas in Greenland – especially along the coast – are losing up to one metre of ice thickness per year.
Melting ice sheets caused by rising temperatures and the subsequent rising of sea levels is a devastating consequence of climate change, especially for low-lying coastal areas.
In addition, the increased influx of freshwater into oceans affects the salinity, which in turn impacts global ocean currents – a major player in the regulating of our climate.
In the lower part of the image, we can see icebergs speckling the waters of a fjord, with the mountainous Nuussuaq Peninsula visible along the bottom of the image.
This image was acquired by Landsat-8 satellite’s Operational Land Imager on 12 June 2013.
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst floats inside the International Space Station’s European Columbus laboratory. The image was taken during his first flight in 2014.
The lights in the laboratory are dimmed to a pinkish glow during the crew’s off-duty time. Columbus houses NASA’s Veggie greenhouse, where researchers are growing lettuce in weightlessness. Previous experiments showed that red light is best for growing plants in space.
Veggie is already a favourite experiment for astronauts because it offers fresh food at the end of a harvest. Learning how to grow food in space is essential for longer trips further from Earth.
Nearly a decade ago, the Columbus laboratory set sail to become Europe’s largest single contribution to the International Space Station. Shortly after, the first Automated Transfer Vehicle – the most complex spacecraft ever built in Europe – arrived at the orbital outpost.
There is a lot to celebrate in 2018: the 10th anniversary of the Columbus laboratory and the Automated Transfer Vehicle series, plus Alexander’s second mission to the Space Station.
He will be launched in June on Soyuz MS-09 together with NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev. He will fulfil the role of commander during the second part of his six-month.
This is the second time a European astronaut will be commander of the Station – the first was Frank De Winne in 2009.
Taking centre stage in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a galaxy known as NGC 3081, set against an assortment of glittering galaxies in the distance. Located in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Serpent), NGC 3081 is located over 86 million light-years from us. It is known as a type II Seyfert galaxy, characterised by its dazzling nucleus.
NGC 3081 is seen here nearly face-on. Compared to other spiral galaxies, it looks a little different. The galaxy's barred spiral centre is surrounded by a bright loop known as a resonance ring. This ring is full of bright clusters and bursts of new star formation, and frames the supermassive black hole thought to be lurking within NGC 3081 — which glows brightly as it hungrily gobbles up infalling material.
These rings form in particular locations known as resonances, where gravitational effects throughout a galaxy cause gas to pile up and accumulate in certain positions. These can be caused by the presence of a "bar" within the galaxy, as with NGC 3081, or by interactions with other nearby objects. It is not unusual for rings like this to be seen in barred galaxies, as the bars are very effective at gathering gas into these resonance regions, causing pile-ups which lead to active and very well-organised star formation.
Hubble snapped this magnificent face-on image of the galaxy using the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. This image is made up of a combination of ultraviolet, optical, and infrared observations, allowing distinctive features of the galaxy to be observed across a wide range of wavelengths.
As fans around the world tune in watch the World Cup in Brazil, a few fans out of this world will be watching, too. Members of the International Space Station Expedition 40 crew will be cheering on their teams from some 400 kilometres above Earth. In this picture captured by one of the crew, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are seen at night as the ISS orbits the Earth.
Sao Paulo is the farthest cluster of lights on the right side and Rio de Janeiro is closer to the middle of the picture. There are three World Cup 2014 stadium cities in one picture: Arena de Sao Paulo, Estadio Mineirao (Belo Horizonte), and Estadio Do Maracana (Rio de Janeiro).
Moon and Mars seen over Darmstadt on 7 June 2014 at 22:18 CEST (composite). Telescope: 50/330 ED-Doublet TSED503; Camera: Canon EOS 600D, ISO 800; Moon exposure: 1/640 s; Mars exposure: 1/125s
Read more about this image in the Mars Express blog: http://blogs.esa.int/mex/2014/06/11/mars-and-moon/
Week In Images
09-13 June 2014