Amazing colours of the Sahara desert are captured in this photograph taken from onboard the International Space Station. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst shared this image on Twitter with the comment: "Irrigation in the Sahara Desert looks like a challenging task from up here...".
Alexander Gerst is currently a member of the resident International Space Station Expedition 40 crew. He is spending five and a half months living and working on the ISS for his Blue Dot mission.
Connect with Alexander Gerst on social media via: alexandergerst.esa.int
Liftoff of an Ariane 5 launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana with ESA’s last Automated Transfer Vehicle to the International Space Station, on 29 July 2014.
Georges Lemaître is the fifth ATV built and launched by ESA as part of Europe’s contribution to cover the operational costs for using the Space Station.
ESA’s last Automated Transfer Vehicle, ATVGeorges Lemaître, is set for launch to the International Space Station from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 23:44 GMT on 29 July (01:44 CEST on 30 July).
The fifth in the series of the largest spacecraft ever built in Europe is also the heaviest load an Ariane 5 has ever launched.
ATV-5 is set to carry almost 6.6 tonnes of supplies to the orbital outpost, including a record amount of dry cargo: around 2682 kg.
Georges Lemaîtreswill deliver experiments, equipment, spare parts, water, air and even artwork to the six astronauts living in space.
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will be responsible for docking and unloading the cargo when ATV arrives at its destination around two weeks after launch.
A final view of ATV Georges Lemaître through a hatch in the payload fairing atop the Ariane 5 launcher, in the BAF (Final Assembly Building), on 26 July 2014.
Launch of the fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle, ATV-5, from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, is scheduled for 23:44 UTC on 29 July (01:44 CEST; 30 July).
ATV-5 is set to carry almost 6.6 tonnes of supplies to the Station, including a record amount of dry cargo – around 2682 kg.
The nucleus of Rosetta's target comet seen from a distance of 1950 km on 29 July 2014. One pixel corresponds to about 37 m in this narrow-angle camera view. The bright neck between the two lobes of the nucleus is becoming more and more distinct.
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
The spiral galaxy M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is one of our closest cosmic neighbours, just three million light-years away. Home to some forty billion stars, it is the third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and our own Milky Way.
M33 is popular with astrophotographers and from exceptionally dark sites it can even be seen with the naked eye. Thanks to its orientation, we can enjoy a face-on view of the beautiful spiral structure of the galaxy's disc.
This image, from ESA's Herschel space observatory, shows M33 in far-infrared light, revealing the glow of cosmic dust in the interstellar medium that permeates the galaxy. The patchy, disorganised structure of M33's spiral arms resembles a tuft of wool, leading astronomers to classify it as a flocculent spiral galaxy.
The brightest spots sprinkled along the spiral arms are dense pockets of gas and dust where massive stars are born. The most prominent of these is NGC604, visible in the upper left spiral arm. This is an enormous star-forming region where hundreds of thousands of stars are taking shape.
The image is a composite of the wavelengths: 70 microns (blue), 100 microns (green) and 160 microns (red). At the shortest wavelengths, astronomers trace warmer dust, revealing individual regions of star formation and parent clouds. At longer wavelengths, they detect emission from colder dust, outlining some of the cool dust reservoir along the galaxy’s winding spiral arms. This is where stars may be born in the future.
The image spans about one degree on each side; north is up and east is to the left. The data were collected with Herschel's PACS instrument as part of the Herschel M33 extended survey (HerM33es) Key Programme to study the star formation in the Triangulum Galaxy.
The first two Galileo Full Operational Capability satellites (SAT 5-6) during preparations inside the S5A building, before fuelling operations, on 30 July 2014.
The launch of the two Galileo satellites, aboard a Soyuz rocket, is set for August 2014, from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The definition, development and in-orbit validation phases of the Galileo programme were carried out by ESA and co-funded by ESA and the EU. The Full Operational Capability phase is managed and fully funded by the European Commission. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
Rolling sand dunes in the expansive Rub’ al Khali desert on the southern Arabian Peninsula are pictured in this radar image from the Sentinel-1A satellite.
Rub’ al Khali – also known at the ‘Empty Quarter’ – is part of the greater Arabian Desert. Its sand dunes reach up to 250 m in height and in some areas are interspersed with hardened flat plains, evident at this bottom half of this image. These plains are what is left of shallow lakes that existed thousands of years ago, formed by monsoon-like rains and runoff.
Today, the region is considered to be ‘hyper-arid’, with precipitation rarely exceeding 35 mm a year and regular high temperatures around 50°C.
Rub’ al Khali has experienced major desertification over the past 2000 years. Until about the year 300 AD, trade caravans crossed what is today an impassable wasteland.
In the upper part of this image, we can see a road snaking through the remote desert and leading to Kharkhir (not pictured), a Saudi village near the border with Yemen.
Sentinel-1 is a two-satellite radar mission for Europe’s Copernicus programme. The first satellite of the pair, Sentinel-1A, was launched in April. The satellite is still being commissioned to prepare for routine operations.
This image is featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
This Sentinel-1A image was acquired on 26 July 2014 over the coast of northwestern Italy while the Costa Concordia cruise ship (enlarged) was being towed towards the city of Genoa.
The ship capsized near the island of Giglio in January 2012. Following more than two years of salvage operations, the ship began its final journey under tow on 23 July 2014, arriving at the port of Genoa four days later.
During and after the towing, satellite radar images – such as the one here – were analysed, with the technical support of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. This was done for scientific research purposes to assess the Sentinel-1A and other satellite radar images for pollution and ship traffic.
Sentinel-1A is the first satellite launched for Europe’s Copernicus environment monitoring programme. Surveillance of the marine environment, including oil-spill monitoring and ship detection, is one of the mission’s main tasks. Although Sentinel-1A is still being commissioned to prepare for routine operations, early images like this demonstrate the value of its radar vision.
The Copernicus programme also supported recovery operations of the Costa Concordia. Learn more.
From objects as small as Newton's apple to those as large as a galaxy, no physical body is free from the stern bonds of gravity, as evidenced in this stunning picture captured by the Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys onboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Here we see two spiral galaxies engaged in a cosmic tug-of-war — but in this contest, there will be no winner. The structures of both objects are slowly distorted to resemble new forms, and in some cases, merge together to form new, super galaxies. This particular fate is similar to that of the Milky Way Galaxy, when it will ultimately merge with our closest galactic partner, the Andromeda Galaxy. There is no need to panic however, as this process takes several hundreds of millions of years.
Not all interacting galaxies result in mergers though. The merger is dependent on the mass of each galaxy, as well as the relative velocities of each body. It is quite possible that the event pictured here, romantically named 2MASX J06094582-2140234, will avoid a merger event altogether, and will merely distort the arms of each spiral without colliding — the cosmic equivalent of a hair ruffling!
These galactic interactions also trigger new regions of star formation in the galaxies involved, causing them to be extremely luminous in the infrared part of the spectrum. For this reason, these types of galaxies are referred to as LIRGs, or Luminous Infrared Galaxies. This image was taken as part of as part of a Hubble survey of the central regions of LIRGs in the local Universe, which also used the NICMOS instrument.
A version of this image was entered into the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Luca Limatola.
Week In Images
28 July - 01 August 2014