This image of the Moon was taken by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from the International Space Station during his Horizons mission. But he’s not the only one to be eyeing the Moon these days.
From 3 to 5 July, ESA is hosting a workshop on lunar exploration at its technical heart in the Netherlands. Building on ESA’s commitment to sustainable exploration, the workshop brings space experts and industry together to talk lunar resources and how to use them to return humanity to the Moon and farther afield.
For humans to live and work on the Moon and beyond, we need oxygen and water for life support as well as fuel and materials to build habitats and equipment. Launching these bulky consumables would cost the kind of money and energy that makes human exploration of the Solar System unsustainable.
Instead, ESA is looking into the capabilities that would allow humans to harness lunar resources for humanity’s sustainable return to the Moon. The approach is known as In-Situ Resource Utilisation. Put simply, it means extracting and processing resources on site to make useful products and services.
Last year, service providers with like-minded ideas were invited to take place in a one-year study exploring what a collaborative and commercially viable mission to the Moon would look like.
During this week’s workshop ESA is continuing this discussion with experts, industry officials, and potential new partners by exploring the technological readiness, commercial viability, legal status, and international context for lunar resource use.
In the meantime, the humans closest to our rocky satellite – astronauts on the International Space Station – are testing technologies such as remotely operating robots to take us a step closer to our next outpost in space.
The Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite takes us over the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. As a volcanic island famous for its volcanoes, glaciers, lakes, lava and hot springs, Iceland attracts tourists all year round with its vast array of natural wonders.
Click on the box in the lower-right corner to view this image at its full 10 m resolution directly in your browser.
This true colour image shows us the small city of Reykjavik, home to around 120 000 people, and seen in the lower central part of the image. The port town of Akranes, 20 km north of the capital, is also shown in grey in the centre of the image. In between the two lies Mount Esja, standing just over 900 m tall, and providing a dramatic backdrop to the capital.
In the upper left part of the image, ‘kettle holes’ are visible as small dark green dots scattered across the reddish brown area. Kettle holes are formed when blocks of ice break away from glaciers and then become buried in outwash. When these buried blocks of glacier ice melt away they leave behind holes, which become filled with water and turn into kettle hole lakes. They are often found in areas that were covered in ice during the last ice age, which ended around 12 000 years ago. Kettle holes are common in Michigan in the United States, as well as in parts of Germany, Austria and the UK.
The Sentinel-2 mission is tasked with monitoring our changing lands. Designed specifically to monitor vegetation, it can also detect differences in sparsely vegetated areas, as well as the mineral composition of soil, as found in Iceland.
This image, which was captured on 1 November 2017, is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
This past week, students from 18 different ESA Member or Associate states gathered in the Azores archipelago, Portugal to take part in the 8th European CanSat Competition. Well over one hundred students came from far and wide, including for the first time ever a guest team from Japan, to make this edition the biggest ever!
Read the full story here.
Vega's mobile gantry is being modified to accommodate the Vega-C launch vehicle requiring a more powerful crane, new pallets, and modified fluid services. The Vega launch zone (ELV), comprises a permanent infrastructure (the bunker) and a mobile building (the gantry).
Vega-C is expected to debut in mid-2019, increasing performance from Vega’s current 1.5 t to about 2.2 t in a reference 700 km polar orbit, covering identified European institutional users’ mission needs, with no increase in launch service and operating costs.
The participating States in this development are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The ELA-4 launch zone at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana is currently undergoing reconstruction in preparation for Europe’s Ariane 6 launch vehicle.
In this image you see the Launcher Assembly Building (BAL) which is 20 m tall, 112 m long and 41 m wide, located some 1 km away from the launch zone. It is used for launch vehicle horizontal integration and preparation before rollout to the launch zone.
The BepiColombo team, led by Elsa Montagnon, seen in the main control room at ESA's ESOC mission control centre during simulation training for ESA's first mission to Mercury.
BepiColombo will set off in 2018 on a journey to the smallest and least-explored terrestrial planet in our Solar System, and is due to arrive in late 2025.
Achieving orbit around Mercury is a challenge because of its proximity to the Sun, whose massive gravitational influence attracts spacecraft to it like water down a plughole.
The mission team will oversee a series of nine flybys around Earth, Venus then Mercury itself to slow BepiColombo down so it can be captured by the innermost planet. ESA interplanetary missions normally perform flybys to add speed; BepiColombo marks the first time that flybys are used to a slow a spacecraft.
Developed by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, the Airway Monitoring experiment measures astronauts’ breath to determine the health of their lungs. The potential findings will go towards developing better diagnostic tools for airway disease in patients on Earth.
The analyser measures the amount of nitric oxide in exhaled air. Too much nitric oxide suggests inflammation. Causes can be environmental, like dust or pollution, or clinical, such as asthma – at least on Earth, but what happens in space?
To find out, astronauts breathe into an analyser at normal pressure and then in the reduced pressure of the Quest airlock, which simulates the pressure of future habitats on Mars and lunar colonies. The measurements are then compared to the same reduced and ambient pressure data taken before flight to understand the effects of weightlessness on airway health.
This information is key to ensuring the health and safety of astronauts on long missions taking them further from Earth.
Technicians don SCAPE (Self Contained Atmospheric Protection Ensemble) suits to fill Galileo satellites 22-26 with hydrazine fuel. This operation took place in the Guiana Space Centre's S3B payload preparation building on 29 June 2018, in preparation for their 25 July launch by Ariane 5.
A test model of the main imager for Europe’s forthcoming Meteosat Third Generation weather satellite being lifted towards Europe’s largest vacuum chamber for simulated space testing.
Developed by Thales Alenia Space, this is a ‘structural and thermal model’ test version of the mammoth Flexible Combined Instrument, which will provide state of the art measurements of Earth’s atmosphere across 16 visible and infrared channels.
The flight version of this instrument will serve aboard the Meteosat Third Generation-series of imaging satellites, dubbed MTG-I. Developed in conjunction with Eumetsat, Europe’s weather satellite organization, these satellites will be accompanied by additional MTG ‘sounding’ satellites in geostationary orbit to provide simultaneous vertical profiles of the atmosphere.
Some 15 m high and 10 m in diameter, the Large Space Simulator – located at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands – is cavernous enough to accommodate an upended double decker bus. Once the top and side hatches are sealed, high-performance pumps create a vacuum a billion times less dense than standard sea-level atmosphere, and this is held for weeks at a time during test runs. A Sun simulator shines intense light on the test item at the same time that liquid nitrogen is pumped through the walls to recreate the cold of space in the shade.
See a slideshow of FCI test images here.
This busy image is a treasure trove of wonders. Bright stars from the Milky Way sparkle in the foreground, the magnificent swirls of several spiral galaxies are visible across the frame, and a glowing assortment of objects at the centre make up a massive galaxy cluster. Such clusters are the biggest objects in the Universe that are held together by gravity, and can contain thousands of galaxies of all shapes and sizes. Typically, they have a mass of about one million billion times the mass of the Sun — unimaginably huge!
Their incredible mass makes clusters very useful natural tools to test theories in astronomy, such as Einstein’s theory of general relativity. This tells us that objects with mass warp the fabric of spacetime around them; the more massive the object, the greater the distortion. An enormous galaxy cluster like this one therefore has a huge influence on the spacetime around it, even distorting the light from more distant galaxies to change a galaxy’s apparent shape, creating multiple images, and amplifying the galaxy’s light — a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.
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.
In this curious view, Saturn looms in the foreground on the left, adorned by shadows cast by the giant planet’s rings. To the right, the rings emerge from behind the planet’s hazy limb, stretching outwards from Cassini’s perspective.
At the time the images in this mosaic were collected, on 28 May 2017, Cassini was looking over the horizon just after its sixth pass through the gap between Saturn and the rings as part of its Grand Finale. The mission would eventually conclude on 15 September 2017, by plunging into the planet’s atmosphere.
The view is of the rings’ unlit face, where sunlight filters through from the other side. The part of the planet seen here is in the southern hemisphere.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and Italy’s ASI space agency. The image mosaic was first released on 16 October 2017.
ESA's Aeolus wind satellite on the integration trolley in Kourou, French Guiana.
This pioneering mission is set to provide global wind-profile data, using powerful laser technology that probes the lowermost 30 km of our atmosphere to yield vertical profiles of the wind and information on aerosols and clouds.
50 years of the European space Security and Education Centre (ESEC) at Redu in Belgium, was marked on 3 July 2018 with a visit from dignitaries, including François Bellot, Belgium’s Minister for Transport, and Willy Borsus, Minister-President of Wallonia, accompanied by ESA’s Director General Jan Wörner.
ESEC is a centre of excellence for space cyber security services, home to ESA's Proba mission control centres, the Space Weather Data Centre, and is also home to the ESA Academy Training and Learning Centre and the E-Robotics lab, as well as part of ESA’s ground station network.
Week In Images
2- 6 July 2018