The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revisited one of its most iconic and popular images: the Eagle Nebula's Pillars of Creation. This image shows the pillars as seen in visible light, capturing the multi-coloured glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-coloured elephants' trunks of the nebula's famous pillars.
The dust and gas in the pillars is seared by the intense radiation from young stars and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars. With these new images comes better contrast and a clearer view for astronomers to study how the structure of the pillars is changing over time.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revisited one of its most iconic and popular images: the Eagle Nebula's Pillars of Creation.
This image shows the pillars as seen in infrared light, allowing it to pierce through obscuring dust and gas and unveil a more unfamiliar – but just as amazing – view of the pillars.
In this ethereal view the entire frame is peppered with bright stars and baby stars are revealed being formed within the pillars themselves. The ghostly outlines of the pillars seem much more delicate, and are silhouetted against an eerie blue haze.
This image, captured with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the largest and sharpest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy – otherwise known as M31.
This is a cropped version of the full image and has 1.5 billion pixels. You would need more than 600 HD television screens to display the whole image.
It is the biggest Hubble image ever released and shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the galaxy's pancake-shaped disc stretching across over 40 000 light-years.
This image is too large to be easily displayed at full resolution and is best appreciated using the zoom tool.
Although Mars is a very alien planet, some aspects of its geology are surprisingly familiar. This Mars Express image shows a snippet of a region of Mars filled with cliffs, trenches, faults, giant plateaus and volcanoes.
The flowing cracks and fault-like lines in this image form part of the Claritas Rupes escarpment, a 950 km-long network of steep cliffs and sloping outcrops. This escarpment lies within a larger geological system named Claritas Fossae, a weaving network of ‘grabens’ (a German term meaning ditch or trench) that stretches for some 2000 km.
The many chasms, fractures and cracks in this area are thought to have been caused by stress in the planet’s crust as it stretched and pulled apart, triggered by the formation of a nearby raised mound known as the Tharsis Bulge.
This bulge, located within the volcanic Tharsis region, extends to a height of about 10 km at its peak. Its violent formation caused parts of the crust to crack and shift, sliding into depressions and gaps, forming a distinctive pattern of geological features such as sunken grabens and raised blocks known as ‘horsts’. These two features can be very roughly imagined as an ‘M’ shape – grabens form the bottom of the central dip, while horsts form the two uppermost tips.
Similar patterns can be found on Earth around the Upper Rhine Valley between Basel in Switzerland, and Karlsruhe in Germany, or the Eger Graben in the Czech Republic, near the Ore Mountains.
Prominent examples of terrestrial grabens include California’s Death Valley, and the Dead Sea depression in the Jordan Rift Valley. Examples of horsts include France’s Vosges Mountains, and the Palestine Plateau.
Claritas Rupes forms the eastern boundary of the Tharsis region. This region contains some of the largest volcanoes in the Solar System, including the famous Olympus Mons, which stands some three times the height of Earth’s Mount Everest.
This image was acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera of Mars Express on 30 November 2013 at a resolution of about 14 m per pixel. It was first published on 13 February 2014 on the DLR German Aerospace Center and Freie Universität Berlin websites.
This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO) licence. The user is allowed to reproduce, distribute, adapt, translate and publicly perform this publication, without explicit permission, provided that the content is accompanied by an acknowledgement that the source is credited as 'ESA/DLR/FU Berlin’, a direct link to the licence text is provided and that it is clearly indicated if changes were made to the original content. Adaptation/translation/derivatives must be distributed under the same licence terms as this publication. To view a copy of this license, please visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/igo/.
This image was taken on 2 January just after midday GMT, and is one of the first of the Red Planet this year from the low-resolution Visual Monitoring Camera – the ‘Mars Webcam’ – on ESA’s Mars Express orbiter.
It was recorded from an altitude of about 10 000 km and shows the south pole of Mars, including the ice cap of mostly solid carbon dioxide.
The camera is not a scientific instrument but originally captured the separation of the Beagle lander. It now provides images of Mars, including crescent views of the planet, not obtainable from Earth.
The images are acquired and downlinked to Earth on a substantially automated cycle, and original images are posted automatically into a dedicated Flickr channel.
More via the blog: blogs.esa.int/vmc
To explore requires a strong backbone – and that goes double for space exploration.
The 1.194 m-diameter 3.5-m high composite cylinder at the centre of this structure is the backbone of ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter core module, due for launch in 2016.
It has the task of transmitting the forces and stresses of launch throughout the rest of the spacecraft. It also houses the propellant and oxidiser tanks for the Orbiter thrusters – attachment points for the tanks are visible as lines of gold-coloured circles around the central tube.
The spacecraft is seen here during integration of its electrical subsystems in the cavernous Thales Alenia Space cleanroom in Cannes, France, last November.
The cylinder extends to the top of the core module, where the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module will be held during the flight to Mars, before separating for landing.
The Orbiter itself will remain in Mars orbit to image surface features and study the composition of the atmosphere, including sniffing out trace gases such as methane, recently detected on the surface of Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover.
In this Proba-V image, acquired on 1 January 2015, the southern part of France with the snow-capped Pyrenees Mountains is shown.
In the upper part of the image a persistent cloud field in the Garonne Valley is visible. The image resolution is 300 metres.
Proba-V is a miniaturised ESA satellite tasked with a full-scale mission: to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire planet every two days.
This four-image mosaic comprises images taken from a distance of 28.4 km from the centre of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 3 January. The image resolution is 2.4 m/pixel and the mosaic measures 4.4 x 4.2 km.
More information and the four individual images making up the montage are available via the blog: CometWatch – 3 January
This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO) licence. The user is allowed to reproduce, distribute, adapt, translate and publicly perform this publication, without explicit permission, provided that the content is accompanied by an acknowledgement that the source is credited as 'European Space Agency – ESA', a direct link to the licence text is provided and that it is clearly indicated if changes were made to the original content. Adaptation/translation/derivatives must be distributed under the same licence terms as this publication. To view a copy of this license, please visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/igo/
A New Year's haircut for ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in the challenging weightlessness of the International Space Station. Samantha's ISS Expedition 42 crewmate, NASA astronaut Terry Virts, puts his pre-flight haircutting training into practice. Their Russian colleague Anton Shkaplerov assists with the vacuum cleaner, making sure that no hair cuttings float off.
Samantha posted updates about the haircut on Twitter. She started off saying: "New Year, time for a haircut. Setting up shop at 'Chez Terry'". Commenting on this image she said: "While master @AstroTerry cuts, apprentice @AntonAstrey is at the vacuum cleaner".
Samantha Cristoforetti is currently living and working on board the International Space Station as part of the six-strong Expedition 42 crew. Follow her Futura mission at samanthacristoforetti.esa.int.
What's that bright point of light in the outer A ring? It's a star, bright enough to be visible through ring! Quick, make a wish!
This star - seen in the lower right quadrant of the image - was not captured by coincidence, it was part of a stellar occultation. By monitoring the brightness of stars as they pass behind the rings, scientists using this powerful observation technique can inspect detailed structures within the rings and how they vary with location.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 44 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 8 October 2013.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.8 million kilometres from the rings and at a Sun-Rings-Spacecraft, or phase, angle of 96 degrees. Image scale is 11 kilometeres per pixel.
The Cassini Solstice Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini Solstice Mission see ciclops.org
Week In Images
5-9 January 2015