ESA San Salvador from space

The small island of San Salvador, its southern section seen here by
ESA’s Proba microsatellite, is located midway down the Bahamas
Archipelago. It has a special historical significance as it is
nowadays identified as the first point Christopher Columbus made
landfall in the New World.

Read more at:
<a
href=”http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMR1BVLWFE_index_0.html” target=”_blank” >
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMR1BVLWFE_index_0.html </a>

ESA SOHOs ten-year triumph

Thanks to one of the most productive spacecraft ever built,
scientists are far better acquainted with the star that lights our
world and gives us life. Built for ESA by European industry, the
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) went into space on 2 December 1995.

More at:
<a
href=”http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMC09VLWFE_index_0_ov.html”
target=”_blank” >
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMC09VLWFE_index_0_ov.html </a>

ESA IMPRESS Project

The IMPRESS project saw the first launch of an
experimental payload, the Electromagnetic
Levitator, onboard an ESA/DLR-funded Texus 42
sounding rocket, from the Esrange launch site
near Kiruna in northern Sweden, on 1 December at
10:06 hours CET. This experimental payload,
jointly developed by ESA and the DLR, enables
accurate measurement of the properties of
highly-reactive liquid metal alloys. Such
measurements are unattainable on Earth and will greatly benefit the project.

Intermetallic Materials Processing in Relation to
Earth and Space Solidification (IMPRESS) is a
multi-million euro materials science project
co-funded by ESA and the European
Commission. The project, which currently
involves 150 materials scientists from across
Europe and Russia, aims to develop new
intermetallic alloys for industrial applications
such as gas turbine blades and hydrogen fuel cells.

During the 6 minutes and 37 seconds of weightless
conditions provided by the sounding rocket, the
Levitator performed as planned. During the
flight, scientific and housekeeping data as well
as video images of the sample were received in
real-time and closely monitored by engineers and
scientists at the Esrange ground station.
Although more time will be needed for a full
analysis of the scientific data, the initial prognosis is very promising.

“This launch is a major step forward in zero-g
experimentation for the IMPRESS project”, said
David Jarvis, ESA Project Manager. “The next
generation of intermetallics developed under
IMPRESS has the potential to make Europe a world
leader in the strategically-important area of
materials science. The economic significance of
this should not be underestimated, as turbine
production and fuel-cell development is currently
a multi-billion euro industry, the growth of which is set to continue.”

The coming weeks will be busy ones for the
science team, led by Dr Rainer Wunderlich and
Prof. Hans-Jörg Fecht from the University of Ulm,
Germany, as it pores over the thermophysical
properties data obtained during the flight.
Eventually, that data will be used under the
IMPRESS project to improve computer modelling of
advanced solidification processes. This research
is of major importance to the casting industry in
Europe and will ultimately lead to the next
generation of materials for aircraft jet engines.

“The success of this mission is thanks to the
careful preparation by the IMPRESS science team,
the industrial development team led by EADS-Space
Transportation, Bremen and Friedrichshafen in
Germany and the operational support team at the
DLR Microgravity User Support Centre in Cologne
and at Esrange” said Wolfgang Herfs, ESA’s Sounding Rocket Project Manager.

With further sounding-rocket flights planned, the
IMPRESS project will also be making extensive use
of European facilities onboard the International
Space Station – including the Electromagnetic
Levitator – to perform benchmark experiments on intermetallic alloys.

For more information about IMPRESS, visit the project website at:

<a href=”http://www.spaceflight.esa.int/impress” target=”_blank” >
http://www.spaceflight.esa.int/impress </a>

and concerning ESA’s sounding rocket programme, visit:

<a href=”http://www.spaceflight.esa.int/users/rockets” target=”_blank” >
http://www.spaceflight.esa.int/users/rockets </a>

<a
href=”http://www.spaceflight.esa.int/users/downloads/userguides/chapter_5_sounding_rockets.pdf”
target=”_blank” >
http://www.spaceflight.esa.int/users/downloads/userguides/chapter_5_sounding_rockets.pdf
</a>

Hubble’s sharpest view of the Orion Nebula

This dramatic image offers a peek inside a 'cavern' of dust and gas where thousands of stars are forming. The image, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, represents the sharpest view ever taken of this region, called the Orion Nebula. More than 3000 stars of various sizes appear in this image. Some of them have never been seen in visible light.

The Orion Nebula is 1500 light-years away, the nearest star-forming region to Earth. Astronomers used 520 Hubble images, taken in five colours, to make this picture. They also added ground-based photos to fill out the nebula. The ACS mosaic covers approximately the apparent angular size of the full Moon. Thes observations were taken between 2004 and 2005.

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Huygens on Titan – 1 Year Later

Since 18 months, Cassini and Huygens have been providing otherworldly images of Saturn and its stable of satellites. The highlight so far was the arrival on 14 January 2005 of ESA's Huygens probe on the giant moon Titan. Both the lander and the orbiting Cassini, which carried out 8 close flybys of Titan in 2005, have opened new vistas on this Earth-like satellite. This week, the Huygens science teams are meeting in Paris to celebrate this historic landing, the first ever on an object of the outer solar system. Today's Exchange reviews the latest science results - including the still open question of the origins of the moon's large quantities of methane in its atmosphere. The programme will feature interviews with Jean-Pierre Lebreton, Huygens ESA programme manager, and with Jonathan Lunine, interdisciplinary scientist. It will also present new spectacular images of Titan's surface, and animations of the probe's descent compiled from the data it sent back to Earth. Interviews in English, French and Italian (Lunine)

Click here to visit Original posting

ESA SOHOs ten-year triumph

Thanks to one of the most productive spacecraft ever built,
scientists are far better acquainted with the star that lights
our world and gives us life. Built for ESA by European industry,
the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) went into space on
2 December 1995.

More at:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMC09VLWFE_index_0_ov.html

ESA IMPRESS Project

The IMPRESS project saw the first launch of an
experimental payload, the Electromagnetic
Levitator, onboard an ESA/DLR-funded Texus 42
sounding rocket, from the Esrange launch site
near Kiruna in northern Sweden, on 1 December at
10:06 hours CET. This experimental payload,
jointly developed by ESA and the DLR, enables
accurate measurement of the properties of
highly-reactive liquid metal alloys. Such
measurements are unattainable on Earth and will
greatly benefit the project.
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NASA Rover Helps Reveal Possible Secrets of Martian Life

Life may have had a tough time getting started in the ancient
environment that left its mark in the Martian rock layers examined by
NASA’s Opportunity rover. The most thorough analysis yet of the
rover’s discoveries reveals the challenges life may have faced in the
harsh Martian environment.

"This is the most significant set of papers our team has published,"
said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. He is
principal investigator for the science instruments on Opportunity and
its twin rover, Spirit. The lengthy reports reflect more thorough
analysis of Opportunity’s findings than earlier papers.

Scientists have been able to deduce conditions in the Meridiani Planum
region of Mars were sometimes wet, strongly acidic and oxidizing.
Those conditions probably posed stiff challenges to the origin of
Martian life.

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