This light-year-long knot of interstellar gas and dust resembles a caterpillar on its way to a feast. But the meat of the story is not only what this cosmic caterpillar eats for lunch, but also what's eating it. Harsh winds from extremely bright stars located 15 light-years away from the knot towards the right edge of the image, are blasting ultraviolet radiation at this "wanna-be" star and sculpting the gas and dust into its long shape.
The caterpillar-shaped knot, called IRAS 20324+4057, is a protostar in a very early evolutionary stage. It is still in the process of collecting material from an envelope of gas surrounding it.
This image is a composite of Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) data taken in green and infrared light in 2006, and ground-based hydrogen data from the Isaac Newton Telescope in 2003, as part of the IPHAS H-alpha survey. The object lies 4500 light-years away in the constellation of Cygnus (The Swan).
On 29 August 2013, an Ariane 5 launcher lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two communications satellites, Eutelsat 25B/Es’hail 1 and GSAT-7, into their planned geostationary transfer orbits.
Liftoff of flight VA215 occurred at 20:30 GMT (22:30 CET; 17:30 French Guiana) and was Ariane 5’s 57th successful launch in a row since December 2002.
This ALOS image was acquired over Anatolia’s dry, central plateau in Turkey. On the left side we can see the whole of Lake Tersakan, with part of Lake Tuz in the upper right corner.
Lake Tuz is Turkey’s second largest lake, as well as one of the largest saline lakes in the world. During the summer months, however, the lakewater recedes to expose a thick layer of salt.
The bright white surface during these dry summer months has been used by Earth-observing satellites to calibrate their sensors for the colour white – much like how you would adjust a camera’s white balance setting.
Japan’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) captured this image on 21 October 2010 with its Advanced Visible and Near Infrared Radiometer type-2 instrument.
This image is featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
The Gaia spacecraft left Europe on 22 August 2013 in an Antonov 124-100M aeroplane, and landed in French Guiana on 23 August. On 28 August, a second Antonov aircraft transported Gaia’s sunshield and most of the ground support equipment to Kourou. This image shows the main Gaia container being offloaded in Kourou.
The AnyBody Modelling System, developed by the Denmark-based AnyBody company, is the world’s most detailed ‘musculo-skeletal’ model of the human body, incorporating more than 100 bones and 910 muscles. Here it has been placed on a CAD drawing of the ESA-developed Short-Arm Human Centrifuge, operated by DLR’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine. This simulation took place as part of an ESA project to assess the AnyBody model for use in assessing microgravity countermeasures for astronauts in orbit.
The Orion A star-formation cloud seen by ESA’s Herschel space observatory. The Orion Nebula is located within the central bright region of this scene, where massive star formation is most intense. Cooler gas and dust is seen in red and yellow, with point-like sources the seeds of new stars.
The image is a composite of the wavelengths of 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red) and spans about 1.3 x 2.4 degrees. North is up and east is to the left.
ESA's Navigation Facility, located at ESOC, Darmstadt, calculates and predicts highly accurate GPS, Galileo and GLONASS (Russian GPS) satellite orbits, in near-real time, every six hours, around the clock. These data are then used to improve GPS position accuracy, paving the way to even more sophisticated applications and scientific studies, such as large-scale climate monitoring and tracking of long-term changes in Earth’s geology.
The Soyuz capsule, attached to the International Space Station, seen over a cloudless Tunisia on 24 August 2013.
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen before entering one of the world’s largest swimming pools at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, USA for spacewalk training. He is wearing a liquid-cooled undergarment that will keep him at the right temperature during the many hours spent training in the spacesuit or Extravehicular Mobility Unit.
Training underwater on a life-size mockup of the Space Station is one way astronauts prepare for their mission. Floating underwater is one of the best ways train on Earth for weightlessness.
Week in Images
26-30 August 2013