EDRS-C

Bremen, Germany, in a cleanroom of the OHB System AG, facility engineers and technicians are assembling and testing EDRS-C, the first dedicated EDRS satellite. The satellite is based on ESA’s SmallGEO platform. EDRS stands for European Data Relay System and has been designed to provide Europe with a fast and reliable extension to its telecommunications network. EDRS-C is the second of two EDRS nodes and will be launched into orbit.

Click here to visit Original posting

Titan flyby 22 April 2017

In the early hours of Saturday morning, the international Cassini–Huygens mission made its final close flyby of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, coming within 1000 km of the atmosphere-clad world.

The image presented here is a raw image sent back to Earth yesterday, taken on Saturday at 18:42 GMT. It is one of many that can be found in the Cassini raw image archive.

The latest flyby used Titan’s gravity to slingshot Cassini into the final phase of its mission, setting it up for a series of 22 weekly ‘Grand Finale’ orbits that will see the spacecraft dive between Saturn’s inner rings and the outer atmosphere of the planet. The first of these ring plane dives occurs on Wednesday.

Cassini will make many additional non-targeted flybys of Titan and other moons in the Saturnian system in the coming months, at much greater distances. Non-targeted flybys require no special manoeuvres, but rather the moon happens to be relatively close to the spacecraft’s path.

A final, distant, flyby of Titan will occur on 11 September, in what has been nicknamed the ‘goodbye kiss,’ because it will direct Cassini on a collision course with Saturn on 15 September. This will conclude the mission in a manner that avoids the possibility of a future crash into the potentially habitable ocean-moon Enceladus, protecting that world for future exploration.

A press conference will be held on 25 April at 13:30 GMT (15:30 CEST), at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, to preview the Grand Finale, as well as celebrate the scientific highlights of Cassini’s incredible 13-year odyssey at Saturn.

Just today a new result was published in Nature Astronomy that finds that when viewed from Cassini's orbit, Titan's nightside likely shines 10-200 times brighter than its dayside. Scientists think that this is caused by efficient forward scattering of sunlight by its extended atmospheric haze, a behaviour unique to Titan in our Solar System.

Cassini–Huygens is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and ASI, the Italian space agency.

Click here to visit Original posting

Seeing Cygnus

The Cygnus CRS OA-7 cargo spacecraft, SS John Glenn, makes its way to the International Space Station three days after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, on an Atlas 5 rocket on 18 April.

Among its three and half tonnes of cargo are crew supplies, vehicle hardware and science experiments is the Aalto-2 cube satellite making its space debut.

The first Finnish satellite in space, the Aalto-2 was designed and built by students from Aalto University. The satellite is part of the international QB50 mission that aims to study the layer between Earth’s atmosphere and space known as the ‘thermosphere.’ Part of a constellation of other nanosatellites, Aalto-2 will be released from the Station within a month from the Japanese Kibo module that has a spring-loaded satellite launcher.

CubeSats are miniature satellites that weigh between 1 and 10 kg designed to test new space technologies and often used for Earth observation missions.

Cygnus is an American spacecraft built by Orbital ATK and uses a pressurised hull designed in Europe by Thales Alenia Space.

Click here to visit Original posting

Irish Minister Halligan by Columbus mockup

 John Halligan, Ireland’s Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation beside a mock-up of Europe's Columbus module of the International Space Station.

On 24 April 2017 ESA’s technical centre in the Netherlands was honoured with a visit by John Halligan, Ireland’s Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation. Minister Halligan and his group were greeted by Franco Ongaro, Head of ESTEC and ESA’s Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

The Minister was joined by Private Secretary Katrina Flynn; James Lawless T.D, Spokesperson on Science, Research and Development for the opposition Fianna Fail Party; Michael Davitt, Head of the Irish Delegation to ESA and fellow members of the Delegation and Enterprise Ireland, as well as Kevin Kelly, Ireland’s Ambassador to the Netherlands.

The visitors were shown ESTEC’s satellite Test Centre, the Planetary Robotics Laboratory and Erasmus Human Spaceflight Centre, where they met Irish ESA employees and representatives of partner companies.

Click here to visit Original posting

Meet Steve

Thanks to scientists, citizen scientists, ground-based imagers and ESA’s magnetic field Swarm mission, this purple streak of light in the night sky has been discovered. Originally thought to be a ‘proton arc’, this strange feature has been called Steve. While there is still a lot to learn about Steve, the electric field instrument carried on the Swarm mission has measured it. Flying through Steve, the temperature 300 km above Earth’s surface jumped by 3000°C and the data revealed a 25 km-wide ribbon of gas flowing westward at about 6 km/s compared to a speed of about 10 m/s either side of the ribbon.

Read full story: When Swarm met Steve

Click here to visit Original posting

Lake MacKay, Australia

Brown hills speckle the eastern part of Australia’s Lake MacKay in this satellite image.

Located on the border of the states of Western Australia and Northern Territory, the salt lake only sees water after seasonal rainfall – if at all. It is classified as an ephemeral lake, meaning it exists only after precipitation. This is not the same as a seasonal lake, which sees water for longer periods.

About half of Australia's rivers drain inland and often end in ephemeral salt lakes.

The greens and blues in this image show desert vegetation or algae, soil moisture and minerals – mainly salt. On some of the brown ‘islands’ and on the shore in the lower right, we can see the east–west sand ridges forming lines in the landscape.

The lake lies at the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, which covers nearly 285 000 sq km. Roads are scarce in the area, and often frequented by four-wheel drive adventurers. Roads include the Canning Stock Route about 300 km to the west of the image, or Tanami Track connecting Australia’s Stuart Highway to the Great Northern Highway around 300 km to the east.

This image, also featured on the Earth from Space video programme, was captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2B satellite on 15 March.

Although it is still being calibrated following the 7 March launch, the satellite’s main instrument is already delivering images, demonstrating its capability to map Earth’s land, coast and inland water bodies. Once fully operational, the data will be made available to users for a variety of applications, free of charge.

Click here to visit Original posting

Lake MacKay, Australia

Brown hills speckle the eastern part of Australia’s Lake MacKay in this satellite image.

Located on the border of the states of Western Australia and Northern Territory, the salt lake only sees water after seasonal rainfall – if at all. It is classified as an ephemeral lake, meaning it exists only after precipitation. This is not the same as a seasonal lake, which sees water for longer periods.

About half of Australia's rivers drain inland and often end in ephemeral salt lakes.

The greens and blues in this image show desert vegetation or algae, soil moisture and minerals – mainly salt. On some of the brown ‘islands’ and on the shore in the lower right, we can see the east–west sand ridges forming lines in the landscape.

The lake lies at the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, which covers nearly 285 000 sq km. Roads are scarce in the area, and often frequented by four-wheel drive adventurers. Roads include the Canning Stock Route about 300 km to the west of the image, or Tanami Track connecting Australia’s Stuart Highway to the Great Northern Highway around 300 km to the east.

This image, also featured on the Earth from Space video programme, was captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2B satellite on 15 March.

Although it is still being calibrated following the 7 March launch, the satellite’s main instrument is already delivering images, demonstrating its capability to map Earth’s land, coast and inland water bodies. Once fully operational, the data will be made available to users for a variety of applications, free of charge.

Click here to visit Original posting