Day of Remembrance

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden participates in a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery. The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration. > President's Message > Administrator's Message Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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People: Our legacy

"Leadership is a gift. It is given by those who follow."

This statement, given by Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, then the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander and now the Air Force Chief of Staff, to the cadets of the United States Air Force Academy in 2011, puts into words the philosophy Chief Master Sgt. Alfred Herring has been following throughout his 30 year career in the Air Force.

After nine ranks and 13 assignments, 24th Air Force's second command chief master sergeant is retiring. One thing has remained constant throughout his time in the Air Force, however, and that is the importance of people.

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Hubble’s modern art

A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show?

At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images that we are used to seeing from Hubble.

The distinctive splashes of colour must surely be a piece of modern art, or an example of the photographic technique of "light painting". Or, could they be the trademark tracks of electrically charged particles in a bubble chamber? On a space theme, how about a time-lapse of the paths of orbiting satellites?

The answer? None of the above. In fact, this is a genuine frame that Hubble relayed back from an observing session.

Hubble uses a Fine Guidance System (FGS) in order to maintain stability whilst performing observations. A set of gyroscopes measures the attitude of the telescope, which is then corrected by a set of reaction wheels. In order to compensate for gyroscopic drift, the FGS locks onto a fixed point in space, which is referred to as a guide star.

It is suspected that in this case, Hubble had locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in this remarkable picture of brightly coloured stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. It seems that even when Hubble makes a mistake, it can still kick-start our imagination.

A version of this image was entered into the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Judy Schmidt.

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Winter survival training in Russia

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen (left) takes part in winter survival  training near Star City outside Moscow, Russia. Survival training is an  important part of all Soyuz mission training. There is always the  possibility that a Soyuz spacecraft could land in a remote, cold area.  All astronauts have to learn to survive in harsh climates while waiting  for rescue.

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Zambezi River, Zambia

This image from Envisat’s radar shows the Zambezi River’s floodplain in western Zambia.

The city of Mongu appears as a cluster of white radar reflections on the right side of the image. It is about 15 km from the river’s main channel – which appears light green, snaking down the left side of the image – but during the wet season, the waters rise right up to the edge of the town.

This image is a compilation of three acquisitions from Envisat’s radar. Each acquisition is assigned a colour, and when combined show changes between the acquisitions.

The individual images were acquired on 1 March, during the wet season, 27 September and 26 December, when water levels were low, all during 2011. Combined, the psychedelic array of colours reveal how drastically the floodplain changes between seasons.

As the second largest wetland in Zambia, the Zambezi floodplain is a major spawning ground for fish. With about 80 different fish species, it serves as a source of livelihood to the local people, along with harvesting of other wetland resources like reeds and sedges for handicraft, and rice cultivation.

But this area is threatened by unsustainable fishing, animal poaching and the dredging of canals.

The Zambezi floodplains is just one of the over 2000 sites worldwide considered to be wetlands of international importance by the Ramsar Convention – an intergovernmental treaty for the sustainable use of wetlands. World Wetlands Day is observed on 2 February, the anniversary of the signing of the Convention.

ESA assists the Ramsar Convention through the GlobWetland project and the TIGER initiative ‘Looking After Water in Africa’, which provide satellite data to be used to monitor these precious resources.

This image is featured in the Earth from Space video programme.

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