This image shows an object known as HH 151, a bright jet of glowing material trailed by an intricate, orange-hued plume of gas and dust. It is located some 460 light-years away in the constellation of Taurus (The Bull), near to the young, tumultuous star HL Tau.
In the first few hundred thousand years of life, new stars like HL Tau pull in material that falls towards them from the surrounding space. This material forms a hot disc that swirls around the coalescing body, launching narrow streams of material from its poles. These jets are shot out at speeds of several hundred kilometres per second and collide violently with nearby clumps of dust and gas, creating wispy, billowing structures known as Herbig-Haro objects — like HH 151 seen in the image above.
Such objects are very common in star-forming regions. They are short-lived, and their motion and evolution can actually be seen over very short timescales, on the order of years. They quickly race away from the newly-forming star that emitted them, colliding with new clumps of material and glowing brightly before fading away.
Asteroid Steins was first imaged by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft using the OSIRIS camera on 5 September 2008. Image stacking and processing by amateur astrophotographer Ted Stryk has enhanced the shadows in order to emphasise the difference between bright crater rims and their shadowed floors.
However, this technique can also create some artifacts, such as the illusion of boulders protruding from the surface, that are not present in the raw data.
In total, over 40 craters have been identified on the surface of Steins, the largest appearing at the ‘top’ of this frame being the 2 km-wide crater named Diamond. Craters on Steins are named after gems, following Stein’s appearance as a diamond shape.
This image was featured as Space Science Image of the Week on 18 February 2013.
Farewell to a rocky visitor: asteroid 2012DA14 (the near-horizontal streak in the image) seen departing Earth around 23:45 CET after making closest approach at 20:27 CET on 15 February 2013. This image was acquired at ESA's Optical Ground Station (OGS) located on Tenerife, Spain.
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano paid the Columbus Control Centre a visit before his launch to the ISS in May. On the visit to meet the team that will support him during his mission, Luca spoke briefly with astronauts on the Station.
The centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, operates the Europe’s Columbus module on the Station. A large team monitor and command the space laboratory day and night from Earth.
They are the ‘eyes and ears’ monitoring every aspect of Columbus, from the air-conditioning, power points and lighting to the scientific experiments, cameras and stored equipment.
When Luca spends six months on the Station this year he will be able to call the control centre at any time with any query he may have.
The mission directors for Luca’s Volare mission also work at the centre organising his time on board, planning experiments and maintenance work, and ensuring that he can do his job in space.
This image was featured as human spaceflight image of the week on 19 February 2013: Luca at Columbus Control Centre
UK company Vorticity Ltd are flying weather balloon to test parachute designs for future Mars landings. With the Red Planet’s atmosphere around a hundred times thinner than Earth’s, the terrestrial stratosphere makes a workable match for Mars. This ESA patch was flown on 22 January 2013 as part of one such payload,captured by one of the package’s cameras just south of Bicester in Oxfordshire above 34 km altitude, just before the balloon burst.
Korea’s Kompsat-2 satellite captured this image of southern central Romania on 2 January 2013. The area pictured is part of a geographic transitional region between the Southern Carpathians to the north and the lowland plains to the south. The tree branch-like pattern is the result of erosion along rivers and streams. Running down the centre of the image is the Cotmeana river. Zooming in, we can see that large areas have been divided into hundreds of small agricultural plots.
ESA supports Kompsat as a Third Party Mission, meaning it uses its ground infrastructure and expertise to acquire, process and distribute data to users.
This image is featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
Juice, the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission, in the Jovian system.
An image from the SEVIRI instrument aboard Eumetsat's Meteosat-10 geostationary satellite. The vapour trail visible in the centre of the image was left by an asteroid that struck Earth near Chelyabinsk, Russia, 15 February 2013, around 03:15 UT. Initial media reports included accounts of injuries and property loss. This image uses data from the High Resolution Visible (HRV) channel of SEVIRI that can produce images with both high spatial and temporal resolution.
Week in Images
18-22 February 2013