White space

The Italian–French Concordia research station in Antarctica sits in the largest desert in the world. Situated 3200 m above sea level with temperatures that can reach –80°C, oxygen is scarce and even walking to a tractor can be leave you out of breath – the crew live with permanent hypoxia.

Despite the hardship, scientists flock each year to this unique station to research the Antarctic continent, the climate, our planet and the stars. During the winter most researchers leave for warmer places but a core crew of up to 15 stays behind to tend the equipment and fend for themselves.

The station goes into lockdown in the winter months when the Sun never rises above the horizon. Tractors and heavy machinery are stored and temporary encampments put away. As the long darkness sets in, the crew ventures outside only when necessary to retrieve and store samples, maintain antennas and equipment or bring in supplies from the vast outside freezer.

ESA sponsors a medical doctor to spend almost a year at Concordia because living there is similar in many ways to living on another planet. The isolation, cramped quarters and low oxygen are aspects of life astronauts will have to endure to explore our Solar System.

Next year’s medical doctor to go to Concordia will be chosen soon as the deadline for application is this week. Follow this year’s crew on the Concordia blog and see more pictures of life in this white space on the Flickr set.

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Hubble Views a Galaxy on Edge

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows an edge-on view of the spiral galaxy NGC 5023. Due to its orientation we cannot appreciate its spiral arms, but we can admire the elegant profile of its disk. The galaxy lies over 30 million light-years away from us. NGC 5023 is part of the M51 group of galaxies. The brightest galaxy in this group is Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, which has been captured by Hubble many times. NGC 5023 is less fond of the limelight and seems rather unsociable in comparison — it is relatively isolated from the other galaxies in the group. Astronomers are particularly interested in the vertical structure of disks like these. By analyzing the structure above and below the central plane of the galaxy they can make progress in understanding galaxy evolution. Astronomers are able to analyze the distribution of different types of stars within the galaxy and their properties, in particular how well evolved they are on the Hertzsprung–Russell Diagram — a scatter graph of stars that shows their evolution. NGC 5023 is one of six edge-on spiral galaxies observed as part of a study using Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. They study this vertical distribution and find a trend which suggests that heating of the disc plays an important role in producing the stars seen away from the plane of the galaxy. In fact, NGC 5023 is pretty popular when it comes to astronomers, despite its unsociable behavior. The galaxy is also one of 14 disk galaxies that are part of the GHOSTS survey — a survey which uses Hubble data to study galaxy halos, outer disks and star clusters. It is the largest study to date of star populations in the outskirts of disk galaxies. The incredible sharp sight of Hubble has allowed scientist to count more than 30,000 individual bright stars in this image. This is only a small fraction of the several billion stars that this galaxy contains, but the others are too faint to detect individually even with Hubble. European Space Agency Credit: ESA/NASA

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NASA Announces New Partnerships with U.S. Industry for Key Deep-Space Capabilities

Building on the success of NASA’s partnerships with commercial industry to date, NASA has selected 12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) to advance concept studies and technology development projects in the areas of advanced propulsion, habitation and small satellites.

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NASA Administrator, President’s Science Advisor to Speak with Astronaut on Yearlong Space Station Mission

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will be joined by John Holdren, science advisor to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and former astronaut Mark Kelly for the first public conversation with astronaut Scott Kelly from the International Space Station on Monday, March 30.

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President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella visits ESA Headquarters

In the occasion of an official visit to France, the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella honoured ESA with a visit to ESA Headquarters on Monday 30 March 2015.

The President and the Italian Undersecretary of State Mario Giro, accompanied by Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian Space Agency, were welcomed to ESA by Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain together with ESA Director of Finance Controlling and Information Technology Giuseppe Morsillo and ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management Franco Ongaro.

Upon arrival, the President’s Delegation shook hands with Italian ESA staff. Following a meeting with ESA DG, the Delegation was invited in Room A where a 20-minute inflight call had been set up with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard the ISS.

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President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella visits ESA Headquarters

In the occasion of an official visit to France, the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella honoured ESA with a visit to ESA Headquarters on Monday 30 March 2015.

The President and the Italian Undersecretary of State Mario Giro, accompanied by Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian Space Agency, were welcomed to ESA by Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain together with ESA Director of Finance Controlling and Information Technology Giuseppe Morsillo and ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management Franco Ongaro.

Upon arrival, the President’s Delegation shook hands with Italian ESA staff. Following a meeting with ESA DG, the Delegation was invited in Room A where a 20-minute inflight call had been set up with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard the ISS.

Click here to visit Original posting

President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella visits ESA Headquarters

In the occasion of an official visit to France, the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella honoured ESA with a visit to ESA Headquarters on Monday 30 March 2015.

The President and the Italian Undersecretary of State Mario Giro, accompanied by Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian Space Agency, were welcomed to ESA by Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain together with ESA Director of Finance Controlling and Information Technology Giuseppe Morsillo and ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management Franco Ongaro.

Upon arrival, the President’s Delegation shook hands with Italian ESA staff. Following a meeting with ESA DG, the Delegation was invited in Room A where a 20-minute inflight call had been set up with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard the ISS.

Click here to visit Original posting

President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella visits ESA Headquarters

In the occasion of an official visit to France, the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella honoured ESA with a visit to ESA Headquarters on Monday 30 March 2015.

The President and the Italian Undersecretary of State Mario Giro, accompanied by Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian Space Agency, were welcomed to ESA by Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain together with ESA Director of Finance Controlling and Information Technology Giuseppe Morsillo and ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management Franco Ongaro.

Upon arrival, the President’s Delegation shook hands with Italian ESA staff. Following a meeting with ESA DG, the Delegation was invited in Room A where a 20-minute inflight call had been set up with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard the ISS.

Click here to visit Original posting

President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella visits ESA Headquarters

In the occasion of an official visit to France, the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella (center) honoured ESA with a visit to ESA Headquarters on Monday 30 March 2015.

The President, the Italian Undersecretary of State Mario Giro and Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian Space Agency (right), were welcomed to ESA by Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain (left) together with ESA Director of Finance Controlling and Information Technology Giuseppe Morsillo and ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management Franco Ongaro.

Upon arrival, the President’s Delegation shook hands with Italian ESA staff. Following a meeting with ESA DG, the Delegation was invited in Room A where a 20-minute inflight call had been set up with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard the ISS.

Click here to visit Original posting

President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella visits ESA Headquarters

In the occasion of an official visit to France, the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella honoured ESA with a visit to ESA Headquarters on Monday 30 March 2015.

The President and the Italian Undersecretary of State Mario Giro, accompanied by Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian Space Agency, were welcomed to ESA by Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain together with ESA Director of Finance Controlling and Information Technology Giuseppe Morsillo and ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management Franco Ongaro.

Upon arrival, the President’s Delegation shook hands with Italian ESA staff. Following a meeting with ESA DG, the Delegation was invited in Room A where a 20-minute inflight call had been set up with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard the ISS.

Click here to visit Original posting