This image has been composed from different combinations of polarized images during totality, to bring out the details of the structures in the corona.
The images were taken by the ESA-CESAR team observing the eclipse from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, South America on 2 July 2019.
The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over a swirl of sea ice off the east coast of Greenland in the Irminger Sea, which is just south of the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland.
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In this image captured on 9 June 2019, small pieces of sea ice, known as ice floes, trace out the ocean currents beneath, resulting in a large swirl-like feature of approximately 120 km in diameter.
This ice, which formed by freezing of the sea surface further north in the Arctic Ocean, has drifted southwards along the coast of Greenland before arriving at this location. The ice swirl is considered a typical eddy or vortex, commonly found in the summer marginal ice zone off the east coast of Greenland.
The marginal ice zone is the transition region from the open ocean, visible in dark blue, to the white sea ice. Depending on wind direction, waves and ocean currents, it can consist of small, isolated ice floes drifting over a large area to smaller ice floes pressed together in bright white bands.
Strong mesoscale air—ice—ocean interactive processes drive the advance and retreat of the sea ice edge, and result in the meanders or eddies visible in this region.
Investigations of such ocean eddies and meanders began in the 1970s and 1980s in the Greenland Sea to gain a better understanding of the interactions between the ocean, ice and atmosphere.
Copernicus Sentinel-2 is a two-satellite mission. Each satellite carries a high-resolution camera that images Earth’s surface in 13 spectral bands. Together they cover all Earth’s land surfaces, large islands, inland and coastal waters every five days at the equator.
This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano in the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow, Russia, 19 June 2019 wearing the Sokol suit he will wear when he is launched to the International Space Station. Sokol suits, tailored to each astronaut, are worn in the Soyuz spacecraft as protection against air leaks.
Luca is training for his Beyond mission which will see him return to the International Space Station in 2019 as part of Expedition 60/61, alongside NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.
Luca was the first of ESA’s 2009 astronaut class to fly to the International Space Station. His first mission Volare, meaning 'to fly' in Italian, took place in 2013 and lasted 166 days. Luca conducted two spacewalks and many experiments that are still running today.
Connect with Luca via lucaparmitano.esa.int.
Telescopes, including Hubble, have monitored the Eta Carinae star system for more than two decades. It has been prone to violent outbursts, including an episode in the 1840s during which ejected material formed the bipolar bubbles seen here.
Now, using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to probe the nebula in ultraviolet light, astronomers have uncovered the glow of magnesium embedded in warm gas (shown in blue) in places they had not seen it before. The luminous magnesium resides in the space between the dusty bipolar bubbles and the outer shock-heated nitrogen-rich filaments (shown in red). The streaks visible in the blue region outside the lower-left lobe are a striking feature of the image. These streaks are created when the star’s light rays poke through the dust clumps scattered along the bubble’s surface. Wherever the ultraviolet light strikes the dense dust, it leaves a long, thin shadow that extends beyond the lobe into the surrounding gas.
Eta Carinae resides 7500 light-years away.
This week ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer is refreshing his rock classification, as well as acting as test subject during dry runs for a new session of Pangaea geology field training, that is preparing space farers for lunar exploration.
The team, consisting of planetary geologists and training experts, is in Lofoten, Norway, scouting for a new traverses to be added to the Pangaea analogue complement.
Lofoten shares many geological features with lunar highlands, such as the Apollo 16 landing site, making it a perfect site to train astronauts on lunar geology.
Pangaea instructors Matteo Massironi , Riccardo Pozzobon, and Fransceco Sauro, as well as petrology professor and local expert Kåre Kullerud are guiding Matthias Maurer through interesting geological sites in the Nusfjord, an area containing primitive crust rock formations, including anorthosites, which are known to be typical lunar highland rocks.
The Pangaea course is designed to provide European astronauts with introductory and practical knowledge of Earth and planetary geology to prepare them to become effective partners of planetary scientists and engineers in designing the next exploration missions. The course also aims to give astronauts a solid knowledge in the geology of the Solar System from leading European scientists.
ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission is being put through its paces to prepare it for facing the Sun following launch in February 2020.
The spacecraft is being tested to withstand the vibrations of launch, the vacuum of space, and the extreme temperature ranges and magnetic environment that it will experience as it journeys from Earth to within the orbit of the innermost planet, Mercury. The deployment mechanisms of instrument booms, antennas and solar arrays are also checked out.
This image captures the scene part way through a solar array deployment test at the IABG facilities in Ottobrunn, Germany, earlier this year. Fully extended, the tip of the array stretches 8.2 m from the spacecraft body. The panels are suspended from above to simulate the weightlessness of space. Click here to watch a video of the full deployment test.
The solar arrays have to provide the required power throughout the mission over a wide range of distances from the Sun. Close to the Sun, the spacecraft will endure around 13 times the amount of solar heating that Earth-orbiting satellites experience, with temperatures in excess of 500ºC, so the solar arrays can also be rotated to avoid overheating when closest to the Sun.
Solar Orbiter's mission is to provide new views of our star, in particular providing the first close-up observations of the Sun’s poles. Its unique orbit will allow scientists to study the Sun and its outer atmosphere, the ‘corona’, in much more detail than previously possible.
We cannot usually see the corona because it is overwhelmed by the bright light of the Sun’s surface itself. During a total eclipse however, when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, that light is blocked, revealing the beautiful white glowing corona around the Sun, its structures shaped by the Sun’s magnetic field. This rare sight will be much sought after by astronomers in parts of South America on 2 July, who are getting ready to watch a total solar eclipse.
We essentially live in the extended atmosphere of the Sun. The corona continuously expands and spreads into space, developing as the solar wind that interacts with the planets and beyond, sometimes leading to aurora and other space weather effects observed at Earth.
Solar Orbiter will measure the solar wind and magnetic fields in the vicinity of the spacecraft while simultaneously taking high-resolution images of features on the Sun, linking the two together. This will give us unprecedented insight into how the Sun creates and controls its dynamic atmosphere, and how it interacts with the planets. Studying the Sun-Earth connection is fundamentally important to understanding how our Solar System works in its entirety.
In addition to delivering ground-breaking science in its own right, Solar Orbiter also has important synergies with NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. Coordinated observations will contribute greatly to our understanding of the Sun and its environment.
Solar Orbiter is an ESA-led mission with strong NASA participation. The prime contractor is Airbus Defence and Space. The spacecraft is scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral in February 2020.
One of four partial solar eclipses observed by Proba-2 on 2 July from its viewpoint in space. Click here to watch a movie.
The image was taken by Proba-2’s SWAP imager, which images the Sun in ultraviolet light revealing the turbulent nature of the Sun's surface and corona – the Sun's extended atmosphere – stretching into space.
In this image a lot of bright dots and streaks can be seen. This is because the satellite was passing through the South Atlantic Anomaly. In this region the spacecraft is exposed to higher levels of radiation, with an increased flux of energetic particles falling on the satellite's detector.
The full-scale Meteosat Third Generation-Imager satellite model at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, where it has been put through a range of tests that simulate the stress of being launched on a Ariane 5 rocket. The satellite model is pictured here ready for the acoustic test. The MTG series of weather satellites will not only guarantee the continuity of data for weather forecasting from geostationary orbit for the next two decades, but also offers significant enhancement of the current imager capabilities, an all-new infrared sounding capability and realtime lightning imaging for early detection of severe storms as they develop.
In late May 2019, a spiral-shaped dust storm at the north polar ice cap of Mars was observed by several instruments onboard Mars Express. This image was taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on 26 May and covers an area of about two thousand by five thousand kilometres.
The spiral shape of the storm arises from the deflection of air masses due to the rotation of the planet, a phenomenon known as the Coriolis force. This effect is also observed on Earth, where low-pressure areas at the northern hemisphere – cyclones, for example – have a clockwise spiral shape. However, storms on Mars are generally weaker compared to storms on Earth, on account of the Red Planet’s much lower atmospheric pressure – less than one percent of Earth’s atmospheric pressure at the surface – and have less than half the typical wind speeds of hurricanes on Earth.
The swirling pattern of the north polar ice cap can also be seen at the far top-right of the image. At the same time, wispy clouds can be seen along the edge of the ice cap, and also further south (left) around the large volcanoes. The dark patches are the result of dust blown volcanic material on the surface.
Sitting 2400 m above sea level on the volcanic island of Tenerife, Spain, ESA’s Optical Ground Station keeps watch on the skies.
The 1-m telescope nestled within the dome on the left of this image, spends its time surveying Earth’s local environment for artificial debris objects, testing different strategies for observing risky asteroids (near-Earth objects) as well as testing and commissioning optical communication satellites. (The telescope is also used for quantum key distribution and feeder-link experiments.)
Part of the larger Teide Observatory, the optical ground station can detect artificial debris objects as small as 10-cm travelling in the ‘geostationary ring’ – a volume of space that comprises all geostationary orbits suitable for practical use, and one of the most valuable regions in space for telecommunications and Earth observation.
The search for fragments in the geostationary ring and a better knowledge of the current debris population are crucial to understand its future evolution, to assess the risk of collisions, and to define suitable and cost-efficient mitigation measures.
ESA’s Space Safety activities are underpinned by such accurate data from observatories around the globe, not only on space debris and asteroids but on our energetic Sun.
Find out more about how ESA works to keep people, life and infrastructure safe, here.
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Picture of the Week shows bright, colourful pockets of star formation blooming like roses in a spiral galaxy named NGC 972.
The orange-pink glow is created as hydrogen gas reacts to the intense light streaming outwards from nearby newborn stars; these bright patches can be seen here amid dark, tangled streams of cosmic dust.
Astronomers look for these telltale signs of star formation when they study galaxies throughout the cosmos, as star formation rates, locations, and histories offer critical clues as to how these colossal collections of gas and dust have evolved over time. New generations of stars contribute to — and are also, in turn, influenced by — the broader forces and factors that mould galaxies throughout the Universe, such as gravity, radiation, matter, and dark matter.
German-British astronomer William Herschel is credited with the discovery of NGC 972 in 1784. Astronomers have since measured its distance, finding it to be just under 70 million light-years.
Week in images
1 - 5 July 2019