The coast of the United Arab Emirates hosts some of the largest desalination plants in the world. While the water they release may affect the coastal ecosystem, harmful and non-harmful algae blooms can also greatly affect the desalination plants. In particular, the local phenomenon known as the ‘red tide’ has affected desalination plants over the last four years, causing severe damage and sometimes bringing operations to a halt.
Satellite data can be used to identify and monitor red tide events – such as this one spreading from the Gulf of Oman into the Persian Gulf. This image was acquired by Envisat’s MERIS instrument on 22 November 2008.
A new image by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of dwarf galaxy ESO 540-31 set against a background of distant galaxies. ESO 540-31 lies just over 11 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Cetus (The Whale).
A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Luca Limatola.
No ESA satellite reaches its destination without the ‘spacecraft navigators’ – the flight dynamics experts who predict and determine trajectories, prepare orbital manoeuvres and determine satellite attitudes and pointing.
Testing inside the DTU-ESA Spherical Near-Field Antenna Test Facility (SNFTF) at the Technical University of Denmark. This is one of ESA’s external laboratories, specialist centres of excellence located across Europe, supplementing the Agency’s in-house facilities. The SNFTF can sample an antenna’s surrounding electrical field in close-up on a highly accurate basis in all directions, then extrapolate these values to its far-off performance.
This photo, taken around the end of 2005, shows testing to part of the MIRAS antenna, flown in space in 2009 aboard ESA's SMOS mission. Associate Professor Sergey N. Pivnenko, manager of the DTU-ESA Facility, is seen in the foreground, with Jerzy Lemanczyk, ESA’s then technical officer for the SMOS antenna, directing down the light upon it.
ESA's Envisat satellite shows ground deformation around a volcano on Fernandina island in the Galápagos islands, following the eruption in April 2009. The caldera is outlined in white, and the lava flow produced by the eruption is also in white, stretching to the coast.
Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar – or InSAR – is a technique where two or more satellite radar images over the same scene are combined to detect slight changes between them. Tiny changes on the ground cause changes in the radar signal and lead to rainbow-coloured patterns in the combined image.
This new image from Hubble is one of the best ever views of the massive galaxy cluster Abell 1689, and shows the phenomenon of gravitational lensing with unprecedented clarity. This cluster acts like a cosmic lens, magnifying the light from objects lying behind it and making it possible for astronomers to explore incredibly distant regions of space. As well as being packed with galaxies, Abell 1689 has been found to host a huge population of globular clusters.
Hubble previously observed this cluster back in 2002. However, this new image combines visible and infrared data from Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) to reveal this patch of sky in greater detail than ever before, with a combined total exposure time of over 34 hours.
These new, deeper, observations were taken in order to explore the globular clusters within Abell 1689. This new study has shown that Abell 1689 hosts the largest population of globular clusters ever found. While our galaxy, the Milky Way, is only home to around 150 of these old clumps of stars, Hubble has spied some 10 000 globular clusters within Abell 1689. From this, the astronomers estimate that this galaxy cluster could possibly contain over 160 000 globulars overall – an unprecedented number.
This is not the first time that this trusty magnifying glass has helped astronomer detectives try to solve clues about the Universe. In 2010, astronomers were able to investigate the elusive phenomena of dark matter and dark energy by mapping the composition of Abell 1689 (opo1037a, heic1014). Its powers as a zoom lens also enabled Hubble to identify a galaxy dubbed A1689-zD1 in 2008, one of the youngest and brightest galaxies ever seen at the time (heic0805).
This image is peppered with glowing golden clumps, bright stars, and distant, ethereal spiral galaxies. Material from some of these galaxies is being stripped away, giving the impression that the galaxy is dripping into the surrounding space. Also visible are a number of electric blue streaks, circling and arcing around the fuzzy galaxies in the centre.
These streaks are the tell-tale signs of a cosmic phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. Abell 1689 is so massive that it actually bends and warps the space around it, affecting how light from objects behind the cluster travels through space. These streaks are actually the distorted forms of galaxies that lie behind Abell 1689.
Other galaxy clusters like Abell 1689 will be observed by Hubble during the upcoming Frontier Fields programme, which will exploit the magnifying powers of massive gravitational lenses to see even further into the distant Universe.
On Monday 10 September, Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov passed command of the International Space Station to Fyodor Yurchikhin. A day later three of the Expedition 36 crewmembers departed from the ISS in their Soyuz spacecraft marking the start of Expedition 37. Yurchikhin, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA's Karen Nyberg will remain on board the Station until mid-November.
More about Luca's Volare Mission on the dedicated website and blog.
ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy standing in the Comex-designed Gandolfi spacewalk off the coast of Marseille, France.
Training astronauts underwater is an effective way of getting used to the sensations of working in weightlessness for long periods.
Read the article: Underwater astronaut on the Moon
The Living Planet Symposium has come to a close in Edinburgh, and a week of talking about past, present and future satellite missions, as well as the scientific challenges facing us, has prepared Earth observation for a new chapter. Over 300 scientists attended two special sessions organised to discuss ESA’s plans to update the scientific challenges of the Living Planet Programme. The scientific challenges are the foundation of ESA’s science strategy for Earth observation for the coming years.
Week in Images
09-13 September 2013