Wetlands Satellite Mapping

Earth’s wetlands are havens for wildlife and vital to the water cycle, but they are also under threat. An ESA-led initiative aims to develop a global wetland information service based on Earth Observation for conservation efforts. The Globwetland project has now entered a new phase, with prototype products being developed based on sites across four continents.

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WISE bed-rest study

As of 1 October, the second 2005 campaign of the Women’s International Space Simulation for Exploration (WISE) study has been fully under way. All 12 female participants are now lying in bed tilted head down at an angle of 6º below horizontal, so that their heads are slightly lower than their feet.

The participants will undertake all activities in this position for 60 days. Remaining in this head-down, tilted position results in physiological changes that also occur in astronauts during spaceflight. The study will assess the roles of nutrition and combined physical exercise in countering the adverse effects of extended gravitational unloading through bed rest.

The participants in this second campaign started moving in pairs into the study location, the MEDES Space Clinic at the Rangueil Hospital in Toulouse, France, on 6 September. Prior to the start of the 60 days of bed-rest, there was a 20-day period during which physiological data were collected for use for comparative purposes throughout the study. The first participants to arrive were thus in bed in the head-down, tilted position by 26 September.

The second campaign attracted responses from women across Europe. From among these candidates, a planned dozen were chosen to take part in the study. Seven of these come from France, three come from Finland, one from Switzerland and one from the United Kingdom.
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Space Station view of giant lightning

Do giant flashes of lightning striking upwards from thunder clouds merely pose an extraordinarily spectacular view? Or do they actually alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere, playing a role in ozone depletion and the climate on Earth? This is the key question that may be answered by specially designed cameras, which ESA proposes to place on board the International Space Station.

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World’s Largest Space Mirror

Much of our Universe has long remained invisible. Our eyes perceive only a fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum. Seeing at infrared wavelengths, for instance, allows astronomers to explore hidden celestial objects and processes such as the birth of stars. In two years, they will be able to use the most powerful of all infrared space telescopes, Herschel.

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