The Copernicus Sentinel-1A satellite brings us over part of the Sagaing Division in northwest Myanmar, and along the border with India.
Snaking through the image is the Chindwin River, which breached its banks during a period of severe flooding in 2015. Monsoon rains beginning that July caused multiple rivers in the region to overflow, causing widespread damage and affecting up to a million people.
This image was created using two passes by Sentinel-1’s radar: one before the flooding on 20 March 2015 and the other during the event on 4 September 2015. Combining them shows changes between the images, such as the inundation of some 111 000 hectares of land on either sides of the river bank appearing in red.
This information was then released in the form of a map under the International Charter Space and Major Disasters to assist relief efforts.
Currently led by ESA, the Charter is an international collaboration between 16 owners or operators of Earth observation missions. It provides rapid access to satellite data to help disaster management authorities in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
Sentinel-1’s radar ability to ‘see’ through clouds, rain and in darkness makes it particularly useful for monitoring floods.
This image is featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
The Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite saw the temperature at the top of Hurricane Ophelia on 15 October 2017 as the storm approached the British Isles.
Ophelia has since been downgraded from a hurricane to a storm.
The brightness temperature of the clouds at the top of the storm, some 12–15 km above the ocean, range from about –50°C near the eye of the storm to about 15°C at the edges.
Hurricanes are one of the forces of nature that can be tracked only by satellites, providing up-to-date imagery so that authorities know when to take precautionary measures. Satellites deliver information on a storm’s extent, wind speed and path, and on key features such as cloud thickness, temperature, and water and ice content.
Sentinel-3’s Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer measures energy radiating from Earth’s surface in nine spectral bands and two viewing angles.
Diffuse, water-ice clouds, a hazy sky and a light breeze. Such might have read a weather forecast for the Tharsis volcanic region on Mars on 22 November 2016, when this image was taken by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.
Clouds, most likely of water-ice, and atmospheric haze in the sky are coloured blue/white in this image.
Below, 630 km west of the volcano Arsia Mons, the southernmost of the Tharsis volcanoes, outlines of ancient lava flows dominate the surface. The dark streaks are due to the action of wind on the dark-coloured basaltic sands, while redder patches are wind blown dust. A handful of small impact craters can also be seen.
The Trace Gas Orbiter, a joint effort between ESA and Roscosmos, arrived at Mars on 19 October last year. Since March it has been repeatedly surfing in and out of the atmosphere, generating a tiny amount of drag that will steadily pull it into a near-circular 400 km altitude orbit. It is expected to begin its full science operational phase from this orbit in early 2018.
Prior to this ‘aerobraking’ phase, several test periods were assigned to check the four science instrument suites from orbit and to refine data processing and calibration techniques.
The false-colour composite shown here was made from images taken with the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System, CaSSIS, in the near-infrared, red and blue channels.
The image is centred at 131°W / 8.5°S. The ground resolution is 20.35 m/pixel, and the image is about 58 km across. At the time the image was taken, the altitude was 1791 km, yielding a ground track speed of 1.953 km/s.
Visualisation of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter aerobraking at Mars.
With aerobraking, the spacecraft's solar array experiences tiny amounts of drag owing to the wisps of martian atmosphere at very high altitudes, which slows the craft and lowers its orbit.
If life exists on Mars, it will have sought refuge underground. Trying to uncover one of the best-kept secrets in the Solar System, scientists are working a kilometre beneath the ground, with ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer joining them this week.
Teams from around the world are gathering at the UK’s Boulby Mine to test new technologies for exploring Mars and the Moon. Almost 30 people are venturing into the deep for the fifth Mine Analogue Research (MINAR) sortie.
They have been testing a wide range of equipment for two weeks, including a robotic hammer to chisel rock and expose fresh surfaces for signs of life.
A team from the University of Leicester carefully monitors the performance of a tool that could one day be part of a Mars rover.
Matthias will take part in several more campaigns this year. Next up is ESA’s Pangaea geology field training in Lanzarote, Spain. There, the hammer will be used to pound the rocks of the Mars-like landscape to test a human–robot partnership for future planetary excursions.
In these campaigns astronauts can learn from scientists and instrument specialists how to use life-detection equipment, drills and cameras for robotic and human exploration.
This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows what happens when two galaxies become one. The twisted cosmic knot seen here is NGC 2623 — or Arp 243 — and is located about 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Cancer (The Crab).
NGC 2623 gained its unusual and distinctive shape as the result of a major collision and subsequent merger between two separate galaxies. This violent encounter caused clouds of gas within the two galaxies to become compressed and stirred up, in turn triggering a sharp spike of star formation. This active star formation is marked by speckled patches of bright blue; these can be seen clustered both in the centre and along the trails of dust and gas forming NGC 2623’s sweeping curves (known as tidal tails). These tails extend for roughly 50 000 light-years from end to end. Many young, hot, newborn stars form in bright stellar clusters — at least 170 such clusters are known to exist within NGC 2623.
NGC 2623 is in a late stage of merging. It is thought that the Milky Way will eventually resemble NGC 2623 when it collides with our neighbouring galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy, in four billion years time.
In contrast to the image of NGC 2623 released in 2009 (heic0912), this new version contains data from recent narrow-band and infrared observations that make more features of the galaxy visible.
Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system seen at work with commercially available Samsung S8+ smartphones.
The sky has been full of Galileo signals since Europe’s satnav system began Initial Services at the end of last year, and a steady stream of Galileo-ready devices is finding its way to the marketplace.
This has been underpinned with years of effort by ESA’s Navigation Laboratory, working with European manufacturers of mass-market satnav chips and receivers as well as ESA’s Galileo team in cooperation with the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency.
Industry responded to Initial Services by making the first Galileo-enabled smartphones available to the public. The list of available devices includes phones from Apple, BQ, Huawei, Samsung and Sony. Check the Use Galileo website regularly for an up-to-date list of Galileo-ready products.
ESA’s Navigation Lab began working with manufacturers in 2013, making their facilities available for testing prototypes.
ESA and the Canadian Space Agency are probing how to explore the Moon with a robot rover. The teams are investigating the challenges of remotely operating a rover in a representative lunar scenario with teams in several locations during 12–20 October.
The series of Meteron (Multi-purpose End To End Robotic Operations Network) experiments is developing the skills, concepts and technologies for future exploration of the Solar System. The many challenges make it likely that machines will be used before and/or together with humans.
The current experiment is using Canada’s Juno rover in a quarry in St Alphonse de Granby, Quebec, which has been selected because of its lunar-like landscape. Engineers at ESA’s mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, and the Canadian Space Agency are taking turns at controlling the vehicle.
Connect with the Meteron team on Twitter via @esa_meteron
Week in Images
16-20 October 2017