The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals the intricate, detailed beauty of Jupiter’s clouds in this new image taken on 27 June 2019 by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, when the planet was 644 million kilometres from Earth — its closest distance this year. The image features the planet’s trademark Great Red Spot and a more intense colour palette in the clouds swirling in the planet’s turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years.
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano sets up University of Edinburgh experiment Biorock by installing experiment containers in the small temperature-controlled Kubik incubators onboard the International Space Station.
This experiment will continue to run in Kubik, unleashing a microbe on a basalt rock and assessing the biofilm that forms over the rock as the organism grows. Observing the rock-microbe system in space will help researchers understand the potential for biomining on other planetary bodies like asteroids, where new resources could be unearthed.
This image from ESA’s Mars Express shows Terra Cimmeria, a region found in the southern highlands of Mars. This oblique perspective view was generated using a digital terrain model and Mars Express data gathered on 11 December 2018 during Mars Express Orbit18904. The ground resolution is approximately 13 metres per pixel and the images are centred at about 171° East and 40° South. This image was created using data from the nadir and colour channels of the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). The nadir channel is aligned perpendicular to the surface of Mars, as if looking straight down at the surface.
The Great Bear Lake and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territory of Canada can be seen from this Copernicus Sentinel-3 image, captured on 21 May 2019.
Read more: CryoSat conquers ice on Arctic lakes
Summertime and the Space Station livin’ is easy.
Like most people this season, the International Space Station is chasing some Sun. Amateur astrophotographer Javier Manteca captured this transit of the Sun on 2 August, at 17:10 CEST from Fuenlabrada in Spain.
The International Space Station regularly transits the Sun but often along a very narrow ground path, which makes it hard to record. Once you lock down the best viewing location on Earth, timing is a critical factor: transits of the Sun last only half a second.
Using a DSLR camera attached to a 150/750 telescope recording in full HD at 30 frames per second, Javier was able to capture the 0.8 seconds it took for the Station to pass. The image is made up of those stacked frames.
An astronomy fan from a young age, Javier’s passion has grown with him. He takes photographs of any near-Earth event, because “who says that daytime astronomy is boring?” Follow Javier and his photography on Instagram.
Meanwhile, on the International Space Station the six-astronaut crew is busy carrying out science experiments, maintain the Station and getting their daily dose of exercise.
Summer is a less noticeable in the controlled environment of the Station, but the atmosphere is pleasant. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is finding time to sneak in selfies while working with friends.
Back on Earth, summer events are in full swing in the western hemisphere, including next week’s space-themed Stockholm Culture Festival. Held from 13 to 17 August, the mass event welcomes thousands to experience space through popular culture.
Alongside a full programme of family-friendly activities promoting space topics – from talks, to book readings, dance events and movie screenings – festival goers will get to connect to space live with an in-flight call to the International Space Station.
Luca will share his experiences in orbit with fellow astronauts Tim Peake and Thomas Reiter on stage to host the event.
This image shows a snippet of the Sun up close, revealing a golden surface marked by a number of dark, blotchy sunspots, curving filaments, and lighter patches known as ‘plages’ – brighter regions often found near sunspots. The width of the image would cover roughly a third of the diameter of the solar disc.
It was captured in 2015 from the site of the European Space Astronomy Center (ESAC) in Madrid, Spain, using a Solarmax 90 H-alpha telescope (9 cm in diameter) and a QHY5-II monochromatic camera. A grayscale 283-second video was initially created of the solar surface, and the best 30% of these 8222 frames were then combined and coloured to produce this image.
The part of the Sun shown here is known as the chromosphere (literally ‘sphere of colour’), one of the three main layers comprising our star. This layer sits just above the photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun with which we are most familiar. When viewed using a H-alpha telescope, as seen here, the chromosphere can reveal myriad intriguing features decorating the whole solar disc.
Sunspots are not permanent fixtures on the Sun. They exist for days or weeks at a time, and come about as intense magnetic fields become twisted and concentrated in a given place, stifling the flow of energy from the Sun’s interior to the surface. This leaves sunspots cooler than their surroundings, causing their darker appearance, while gas continues to flow both beneath and around these areas of magnetic disruption.
The ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) mission, launched in 1995, has probed deeper into these features, characterised the flows in and around the spots themselves, and found that they form as magnetic fields break through the visible surface of the Sun. The work of missions such as SOHO will be continued by ESA’s upcoming Solar Orbiter, the first medium-class mission selected for ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme.
Solar Orbiter will explore how the Sun creates and manipulates a patch of space known as the heliosphere – a bubble blown by the solar wind, an ongoing stream of charged particles heading out from the Sun into the Solar System. The mission will also clearly image the solar poles for the first time, and track magnetic activity as it builds up and gives rise to powerful flares and eruptions. Planned for launch in February 2020, Solar Orbiter will make significant breakthroughs in our understanding of how our host star works.
Read more about the Solar Orbiter testing campaign
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano captured this image of our planet from the International Space Station and shared it on his social media channels saying: "Two deserts, face to face: one rich in colour, the other completely void of it. And us, in between."
The pair of strange, luminescent creatures at play in this image are actually galaxies — realms of millions upon millions of stars.
This galactic duo is known as UGC 2369. The galaxies are interacting, meaning that their mutual gravitational attraction is pulling them closer and closer together and distorting their shapes in the process. A tenuous bridge of gas, dust, and stars can be seen connecting the two galaxies,, during which they pulled material out into space across the diminishing divide between them.
Interaction with others is a common event in the history of most galaxies. For larger galaxies like the Milky Way, the majority of these interactions involve significantly smaller so-called dwarf galaxies. But every few aeons, a more momentous event can occur. For our home galaxy, the next big event will take place in about four billion years, when it will collide with its bigger neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy. Over time, the two galaxies will likely merge into one — already nicknamed Milkomeda.
Week in images
5 - 9 August 2019