The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission takes us over the Lena River Delta, the largest delta in the Arctic.
At nearly 4500 km long, the Lena River is one of the longest rivers in the world. The river stems from a small mountain lake in southern Russia, and flows northwards before emptying into the Arctic Ocean, via the Laptev Sea.
The river is visible in bright yellow, as it splits and divides into many different channels before meandering towards the sea. Sediments carried by the waters flow through a flat plain, creating the Lena River Delta. Hundreds of small lakes and ponds are visible dotted around the tundra.
This false-colour image was captured on 14 January 2019, the peak of the Arctic winter, and shows a large amount of ice in the waters surrounding the delta. Cracks can be seen in the turquoise-coloured ice at the top of the image, and several icebergs can also be seen floating in the Arctic waters to the right. Snow can also be seen in yellow on the mountains at the bottom of the image.
The delta’s snow-covered tundra is frozen for most of the year, before thawing and blossoming into a fertile wetland during the brief polar summer – a 32 000 sq km haven for Arctic wildlife. Swans, geese and ducks are some of the migratory birds that breed in the productive wetland, which also supports fish and marine mammals.
In 1995, the Lena Delta Reserve was expanded, making it the largest protected area in Russia.
The two identical Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites carry radar instruments, which can see through clouds and rain, and in the dark, to image Earth’s surface below. This is particularly useful for providing imagery for emergency response during extreme weather conditions, or monitoring areas prone to long periods of darkness, in this case, the Arctic.
This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed to the ESA Pavilion by ESA's Director General Jan Wörner and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet at the 53rd International Le Bourget Airshow in Paris France on 17 June 2019.
ESA Director General Jan Wörner talks to ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and NASA Apollo astronauts Charlie Duke, Walt Cunningham and Al Worden, at the 53rd International Le Bourget Air & Space Show in Paris, France, on 18 June 2019.
Arianespace and ESA signed the launch services contract for an Ariane launch vehicle for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) on the ESA stand at the 53rd International Le Bourget Air & Space Show in Paris, France, on 17 June 2019.
ESA astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti (top right) poses with her fellow NEEMO 23 crew outside the Aquarius underwater habitat, located roughly 10 km off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.
NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations takes place more than 18 metres below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. For nine days, astronauts, engineers, and scientists live and work underwater, testing new technologies for space.
Samantha is commander of this year’s NEEMO expedition. Since 13 June, she and her fellow ‘aquanauts’ have been living and working underwater, venturing out of their habitat each day to explore their surroundings through underwater spacewalks.
During these ‘spacewalks’, they are testing prototypes for two ESA devices that will aid in lunar sampling and expedition activities in the future. Their feedback will help refine designs for eventual use during Moon missions.
Last month, Samantha and fellow ESA astronaut Tim Peake prepared for the mission at ESA’s Neutral Buoyancy Facility, one of four immersion tanks of its kind, where they made a wet dry-run, of sorts, to refine the procedures and technology.
The NBF at ESA’s astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany, is regularly used to train astronauts for spacewalks from the International Space Station, but – by finetuning the negative buoyancy of the astronauts and the equipment they use – it can also be used to simulate the partial gravity of the Moon.
The Concordia crew of 2017-2018 returns to the European Astronaut Centre after their Antarctica work for a programme follow up. They met ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, who recently returned from his six-month mission on the International Space Station.
Concordia research station is a collaboration between the French Polar Institute and the Italian Antarctic programme. It is one of only three bases that is inhabited all year long, and is located at the mountain plateau called Dome C.
As well as offering around nine months of complete isolation, Concordia’s location at 3233 m altitude means the crew experience chronic hypobaric hypoxia – lack of oxygen in the brain. During the Antarctic winter, the crew of up to 15 people also endure four months of complete darkness: the sun disappears from May and is not seen again until late August. Temperatures can drop to –80°C in the winter, with a yearly average of –50°C.
As a station set in Earth’s harshest space, Concordia is an ideal stand-in for studying the human psychological and physiological effects of extreme cold, isolation and darkness.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCD). Under its theme ‘Let’s grow the future together,’ the initiative celebrates the 25 years of progress made in sustainable land management.
One ambitious project – the Great Green Wall – aims to improve life in Africa’s desert regions by planting a belt of trees across the entire width of the continent. Once completed, the wall will be the largest living structure on the planet stretching across 20 countries - from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east.
By 2030, the initiative aims to have restored 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequestered 250 million tonnes of carbon and created 10 million green jobs.
Captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, this image shows the edge of the dry desert in west Africa contrasted with vegetated land. Signs of land degradation can be seen as brighter “islands” around villages and to a lesser extent along roads and rivers showing bare soil and degraded vegetation. The image shows parts of three African countries: Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. See the image at its full resolution to zoom in on the area.
Since the Green Wall started in 2007, progress has been made in restoring the Sahelian lands. In Senegal alone, almost 12 million trees have been planted, and 25 000 hectares of degraded land restored.
Desertification is the degradation of dry land ecosystems, owing to overexploitation through human activities and climate change. According to the UN, 12 million hectares of land is lost yearly because of desertification and drought, and 75 billion tonnes of fertile soil is lost due to land degradation.
Copernicus Sentinel-2 is a two-satellite mission. Each satellite carries a high-resolution camera that images Earth’s surface in 13 spectral bands. The mission is mostly used to track changes in the way land is being used and to monitor the health of vegetation.
How many times have you taken a selfie and posted it instantly to your favourite social media channel? The Mercury Transfer Module of the BepiColombo spacecraft, currently en route to Mercury, is equipped with three ‘selfie-cams’ and this morning captured a series of snapshots and subsequently posted them to its Twitter account.
The images were taken on 17 June between 04:13 UT and 04:51 UT and downlinked to Earth at around 07:20 UT.
The monitoring cameras take black-and-white images in 1024 x 1024 pixel resolution. The cameras point in three different directions, capturing one of the transfer module’s 15 m-long solar arrays (left), and the medium (middle) and high-gain (right) antennas attached to the Mercury Planetary Orbiter. The third spacecraft module, the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, cannot be seen in these views.
After launch last October the monitoring cameras were used to view the deployed structural elements, and since then are used to visually record changes – for example if commands are sent to rotate the solar arrays or to change the pointing of the high-gain antenna, which is oriented towards Earth.
MCAM-3 is used most frequently, to monitor the rotation of the high-gain antenna. In December, MCAM-1 was used to capture a rotation sequence of the MTM’s solar arrays. Given MCAM-1 and -2 had not been used for several months, the images presented here were taken as a simple checkout of the cameras and made quickly available to share on ESA’s channels.
While the Mercury Planetary Orbiter is equipped with a high-resolution scientific camera, this can only be operated after separating from the Mercury Transfer Module upon arrival at Mercury in late 2025 because, like several of the 11 instrument suites, it is located on the side of the spacecraft fixed to the transfer module during cruise.
Check out this 3D tool to view the attitude of the spacecraft, including simulated views from each of the monitoring cameras.
BepiColombo launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou on an Ariane 5 on 19 October 2018 (20 October European time). It is a joint endeavour between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA. It is the first European mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored planet in the inner Solar System, and the first to send two spacecraft – ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter – to make complementary measurements of the planet and its dynamic environment at the same time.
This image shows an irregular galaxy named IC 10, a member of the Local Group — a collectiongrouping of over 50 galaxies inwithin our cosmic neighbourhood that includes the Milky Way.
IC 10 is a remarkable object. It is the closest-known starburst galaxy to us, meaning that it is undergoing a furious bout of star formation fueled by ample supplies of cool hydrogen gas. This gas condensescongeals into vast molecular clouds, which then formcondense into dense knots where pressures and temperatures reach a point sufficient to ignite nuclear fusion, thus giving rise to new generations of stars.
As an irregular galaxy, IC 10 lacks the majestic shape of spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way, or the rounded, ethereal appearance of elliptical galaxies. It is a faint object, despite its relative proximity to us — justof 2.2 million light-years. In fact, IC 10 only became known to humankind in 1887, when American astronomer Lewis Swift spotted it during an observing campaign. The small galaxy remains difficult to study even today, because it is located along a line -of -sight which is chock-full of cosmic dust and stars.
A version of this image was entered into the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Nikolaus Sulzenauer, and went on to win tenth prize.
Week in images
17 - 21 June 2019