This image taken by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from the International Space Station, shows the effects of winds in our atmosphere and was shared on Alexander's social media channels on 14 August 2018.
Alexander said "Low pressure system over the Atlantic, at night."
Aeolus in the launch tower ahead of its 21 August liftoff from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This extraordinary satellite has been at the launch site since early July where it has been tested and prepared for launch. It will be taken into orbit on a Vega rocket.
Aeolus carries one of the most sophisticated instruments ever to be put into orbit. The first of its kind, the Aladin instrument includes revolutionary laser technology to generate pulses of ultraviolet light that are beamed down into the atmosphere to profile the world’s winds – a completely new approach to measuring the wind from space.
Measuring 4.5 metres across, this relatively small antenna in Australia, dubbed NNO-2, will be the first to hear from the soon-to-be-launched Aeolus satellite, the first ever to measure winds on Earth from Space.
Set for liftoff on 21 August 2018, at 21:20 GMT (23:20 CEST), Europe’s wind satellite will be lifted into space on a Vega rocket. Once the pair have reached the required orbital altitude, at about 320 km, the satellite will separate from its carrier, marking the beginning of its free flight journey around our planet.
Aeolus’ first steps after separation will include the automatic unfolding of its solar ‘wings’ and turning its antenna to face Earth to start sending signals. Only then will teams on the ground be able to get any sign from the satellite that all is well.
Until this point, for the first nervous moments after launch — about one hour and ten minutes — mission teams will be patiently waiting for the first message to be captured and transmitted by this small antenna at New Norcia, Australia.
Since 2015, NNO-2 has been pointing to space, listening for signals from rockets and newly launched satellites and transmitting instructions and commands to them from engineers on Earth.
This small and agile dish quickly and precisely locks onto and tracks satellites during their critical first orbits. As part of Estrack, ESA’s global system of ground stations, it provides vital links between satellites in orbit and the flight control teams at ESA’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
You can watch the Aeolus launch live via the ESA homepage, and follow @esaoperations for updates on the crucial period that follows, as mission teams regain control of the satellite, finally hearing its ‘first words’.
Mission teams in the Main Control Room of ESA's operations centre in Germany complete the final Aeolus simulation before launch, set for 21 August 2018.
Thanks to a quirk of our cosmos, the Moon’s average distance from Earth is just right for it to appear as the same size in the sky as the significantly larger Sun. Once in a while the Moon slides directly between Earth and the Sun such that it appears to cover our star completely, temporarily blocking out its light and creating a total solar eclipse for those along the narrow path cast by the Moon’s shadow.
But sometimes the alignment is such that the Moon only partially covers the Sun’s disc. Such a partial eclipse occurred on Saturday for observers located primarily in northern and eastern Europe, northern parts of North America, and some northern locations in Asia.
ESA’s Sun-watching Proba-2 satellite orbits Earth about 14.5 times per day and with its constant change in viewing angle, it dipped in and out of the Moon’s shadow twice during Saturday’s eclipse.
Selected views of the two partial eclipses are seen side-by-side here – the first (left) was captured at 08:40:12 GMT and the second (right) at 10:32:17 GMT on 11 August.
The images were taken by the satellite’s SWAP camera, which works at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths to capture the Sun’s hot turbulent atmosphere – the corona – at temperatures of about a million degrees, which can be seen in the background.
Watch the full image sequence here.
This image of three miniature satellites or CubeSats freshly launched into space is a striking reminder of human cooperation at the heart of space exploration.
Bhutan’s first ever satellite along with others from Malaysia and the Philippines were released into their respective orbits from the International Space Station on 10 August.
While the launch was a first for Bhutan, it was just another day on the International Space Station that was built and is maintained by thousands of people across the globe.
Launched in 1998, the Space Station is the culmination of years of international planning and partnership between the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, and participating European countries.
In its 20 years of operation it has hosted many international flight crews, launched global operations and conducted research from the world-wide scientific community.
It is not only a technological achievement but a successful testament to partnership across borders.
ESA is continuing along these lines of partnership and cooperation in its new European vision for space exploration.
In addition to committing its support for the Space Station, the agency is partnering with the commercial sector to make the Space Station more accessible to all with programmes such as the International Commercial Experiments Service, or ICE Cubes.
The agency is also setting its sights beyond low-Earth orbit, with ambitious plans for the Moon, a deep space gateway and a Mars landing.
For the Moon, ESA is preparing for a robotic landing in partnership with Russia as early as 2022. The mission will look for water ice.
Returning humans to the Moon is underway in collaboration with NASA on the Orion vehicle, with a European service module at its core, that will build bridges to Moon and Mars by sending humans further into space than ever before.
Like the International Space Station, this new age of exploration will be achieved not in competition, but through international cooperation.
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst put it best when posted this image on social media, writing “If you want to go far, go together.”
We’re already on it.
This Friday 17 August, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will be directing this humanoid robot Rollin’ Justin – based in the DLR German Aerospace Center establishment in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany – from aboard the International Space Station, flying at 28 800 km/h and 400 km above Earth.
This latest two-hour test of astronaut-robot cooperation will be webcast from 11:30 CEST (09:30 Station Time, GMT) on Friday. Join us here.
This is the latest experiment in the multi-space-agency METERON (Multi-Purpose End-to-End Robotic Operations Network) project, investigating how astronauts in orbit might oversee robots on alien planets, allowing humans to explore unknown environments without the hazard and expense of landing.
ESA’s Thomas Krueger from the Agency’s Human Robot Interaction Lab explains: “DLR’s Rollin’ Justin possesses a high level of autonomy. For Alexander it will be more like supervising Justin than performing direct remote control.
“He will use his tablet on ISS to visually identify which items the robot needs to attend to among a set of solar panels on a simulated Martian surface. The operating principle is similar to a point-and-click adventure game, but with exponentially higher stakes of space robotics.”
Principal Investigator for the experiment is Neal Lii of DLR: “Rather than commanding every joint and every movement of the robot, which demands a high mental workload from the human, we rely on the robot’s intelligence to carry out small task packages as commanded by the ISS crew. What we’re looking for with these SUPVIS Justin experiments is demonstrate robots as genuine co-workers, where astronauts give abstract commands that the robots can compute locally then carry out. Our model is supervised autonomy, with astronauts able to manage a team of robots to achieve a given goal.
“This will be our third SUPVIS-Justin orbital experiment. The first was carried out with ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli in August last year. Paolo got so excited about it that he actually recruited fellow crewmembers Randy Bresnik and Jack Fischer to try it out as well. NASA astronaut Scott Tingle participated in the second session in March 2018, providing us with some great feedback.
“We want to see how we can make the interaction as easy and intuitive as possible, while building up the complexity of the tasks with each successive ISS-ground experiment. Starting with simpler switching on/off tasks, we have advanced to asset retrieval, installation, and dexterous repairs for this session. These represent some of the most dexterous telerobotic tasks to be commanded from space to date.”
This project is led by DLR’s Robotics and Mechatronics Center together with ESA’s Human Robot Interaction Lab, with partners including DLR's German Space Operations Center, ESA's European Astronaut Centre, the Danish Aerospace Company, Airbus and NASA.
Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev successfully installed the Icarus experiment antenna on the outside hull of the International Space Station during 7 hour 46 minute-long spacewalk – RS-EVA-45.
Galaxies abound in this spectacular Hubble image; spiral arms swirl in all colours and orientations, and fuzzy ellipticals can be seen speckled across the frame as softly glowing smudges on the sky. Each visible speck of a galaxy is home to countless stars. A few stars closer to home shine brightly in the foreground, while a massive galaxy cluster nestles at the very centre of the image; an immense collection of maybe thousands of galaxies, all held together by the relentless force of gravity.
Galaxy clusters are some of the most interesting objects in the cosmos. They are the nodes of the cosmic web that permeates the entire Universe — to study them is to study the organisation of matter on the grandest of scales. Not only are galaxy clusters ideal subjects for the study of dark matter and dark energy, but they also allow the study of farther-flung galaxies. Their immense gravitational influence means they distort the spacetime around them, causing them to act like giant zoom lenses. The light of background galaxies is warped and magnified as it passes through the galaxy cluster, allowing astronomers insight into the distant — and therefore early — Universe.
This image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide-Field Camera 3 as part of an observing programme called RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey). RELICS imaged 41 massive galaxy clusters with the aim of finding the brightest distant galaxies for the forthcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope(JWST) to study.
Week in images
13 - 17 August 2018