This Adélie Penguin is not from outer space but its nearest equivalent on Earth: Antarctica. The penguin was photographed at Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica by ESA-sponsored medical research doctor Vangelis Kaimakamis on one of his stopovers on the long voyage to Concordia research station in the heart of the white continent.
His voyage took him from Greece to Germany, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand before arriving at McMurdo base in Antarctica. From there he transferred to the Italian Zucchelli Station at Terra Nova Bay, where weather grounded him for a week.
The Adélie Penguin may have been one of the last animals Vangelis sees during his 10-month stay at Concordia because no living being can survive the harsh conditions there. With temperatures as low as –80°C, no outside help can be flown in during the winter and even the Sun does not rise above the horizon for four months.
The closest base to Concordia is the Russian Vostok outpost, some 600 km away. In comparison, the International Space Station is closer to civilisation – astronauts can escape in an emergency and land in under four hours.
Vangelis will run experiments on how people adapt to the stress of living in close isolation. The research this year will be as diverse as studying how the crew’s body posture changes and which materials are more resistant to bacterial growth.
This is one of the many ways ESA is studying human physiology and psychology in preparation for future long missions beyond Earth.
André records his brain waves
ESA astronaut André Kuipers conducted many experiments during his PromISSe mission.
Here, André is recording his brain waves through 62 electrodes as part of ESA’s Neurospat experiment. The goal is to understand if the brain processes tasks differently in space.
Luca at Col-CC
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
Credits: ESA–J. Harrod
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield maintaining Biolab in Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station.
Biolab is an experiment workstation tailored for research on biological samples such as micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, plants and small invertebrates.
The unit features a centrifuge that creates simulated gravity to compare how samples react to weightlessness and artificial gravity.
International Space Station from above
This photo was taken in 2011 from Space Shuttle Discovery as it left the Station for Earth on her last voyage before retirement. ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle Johannes Kepler is docked with the Station at the bottom of the photo, while the golden module at the top is Japan’s own supply ferry.
The Station circles Earth at 28 800 km/h, taking only 90 minutes to complete a full circuit. It can be seen and photographed without special equipment as it passes overhead. As it moves so fast, the hard part is to know when and where to look.
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano suiting up for EVA training
In this picture, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is seen preparing for a simulated spacewalk and is wearing a training version of his Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuit. He is about to be submerged in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Divers in the water will assist Luca and fellow spacewalker, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, in their rehearsal, which is intended to help prepare them for work on the outside of the International Space Station.
Luca will perform two spacewalks during his Volare mission, which starts May on the International Space Station.
As Expedition 36/37 flight engineer, Luca will conduct planned maintenance tasks, replace a camera mounted on Japan’s Kibo module and retrieve science payloads. One of his spacewalks will also prepare for the arrival of the Russia’sn Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM).
Space weather aurora
The Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis – above Finnish Lapland near Sodankylä during ESA’s space weather conference. Northern Lights occur when charged particles from the Sun hit Earth’s atmosphere.
The green vertical stripe in the picture is a laser beam from the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s Arctic Research Centre to measure cloud particles and aerosols in the upper atmosphere.
Credits: Kate Arkless Gray (@SpaceKate)
Actin and vinculin in adherent monocyte
The internal structure of a human cell in simulated gravity taken on the International Space Station. Pictured here is a monocyte immune cell that plays an integral role in protecting our bodies from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
To record this image, immune cells were placed on gold-coated slides inside ESA’s Kubik incubator. As the cells grew they removed the gold, allowing researchers on Earth to measure their movements in space. Antibodies that light up under a fluorescence microscope were added to reveal colours and identify specific proteins.
Credits: ESA/MIA G.Pani
ISS transit in front of Sun
This spectacular image shows the transit of the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Shuttle Atlantis in front of the Sun on 17 September 2006, taken by amateur photographer Thierry Legault.It is taken from Mamers, in Normandy (FR)
Credits: Thierry Legault
Thomas Pesquet EVA training
ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet descending underwater during spacewalk training at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, USA.
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 to train on Earth for weightlessness.
These images were featured as human spaceflight and operation's image of the week.
5 February 2013: Space Penguin
12 February 2013: Neurospat
19 February 2013: Luca at Columbus Control Centre
26 February 2013: Biolab
5 March 2013: Where is the International Space Station?
12 March 2013: Luca goes EVA
19 March 2013: Space weather
26 March 2013: Goldfinger
2 April 2013: Inauguration of ESA's SSA Space Weather Coordination Centre
9 April 2013: Underwater for outer space