NASA Astronaut Preps for First Space Station Mission, Available for Media Interviews

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who is making final preparations for his launch next month on his first mission to the International Space Station, will be available for live satellite interviews from 8 to 9 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 7.

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Eruption of Wolf Volcano, Galapagos Islands

In late May 2015, the highest volcano in the Galapagos Islands, Wolf volcano, erupted for the first time in 33 years. The wide image and closeup of Wolf was acquired on June 11, 2015, by the ASTER instrument on NASA's Terra satellite. The false-color images combine near-infrared, red, and green light (ASTER bands 3-2-1).

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Comet activity, 21 June

On 13 August 2015, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko will reach its closest point to the Sun along its 6.5-year long orbit. It will be around 185 million km from the Sun at ‘perihelion’, between the orbits of Earth and Mars.

ESA’s Rosetta mission reached the comet on 6 August 2014, and has been accompanying it ever since, monitoring the evolution of the nucleus and its surrounding atmosphere, or coma.

The nucleus is a mixture of frozen ices and dust. As the comet approaches the Sun, solar light warms its surface, causing the ices to boil away. This gas streams away carrying along large amounts of dust, and together they build up the coma.

This image was obtained with Rosetta’s navigation camera on 21 June 2015, when the spacecraft was 177 km from the comet centre.

Parts of the nucleus are lit by sunlight, revealing the variety of terrains that are found on this curious object. The diffuse luminosity, produced by the comet’s activity, is visible all around the nucleus, but appears especially striking in the upper part of the image.

The small lobe of this oddly shaped comet, visible at the top left in this orientation, is crowned by several jets of outflowing material, streaming into space from the surface.

Signs of activity are also visible around the ‘neck’ region that connects the two lobes, set against cliffs that are cast in shadow.

The comet’s large lobe, to the bottom right, reveals the rich morphology of the nucleus, with rugged terrains, circular features and smoother portions punctuated by boulders.

Rosetta will keep observing how the comet’s activity evolves in the lead up to perihelion, and for a full year after that, until the end of the mission in September 2016.

This image is published for the first time in today's CometWatch on the Rosetta blog.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO) licence. The user is allowed to reproduce, distribute, adapt, translate and publicly perform this publication, without explicit permission, provided that the content is accompanied by an acknowledgement that the source is credited as 'ESA - European Space Agency’, a direct link to the licence text is provided and that it is clearly indicated if changes were made to the original content. Adaptation/translation/derivatives must be distributed under the same licence terms as this publication. The user must not give any suggestion that ESA necessarily endorses the modifications that you have made. No warranties are given. The licence may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material. Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from ESA. To view a copy of this licence, please visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/igo

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Comet activity, 21 June

On 13 August 2015, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko will reach its closest point to the Sun along its 6.5-year long orbit. It will be around 185 million km from the Sun at ‘perihelion’, between the orbits of Earth and Mars.

ESA’s Rosetta mission reached the comet on 6 August 2014, and has been accompanying it ever since, monitoring the evolution of the nucleus and its surrounding atmosphere, or coma.

The nucleus is a mixture of frozen ices and dust. As the comet approaches the Sun, solar light warms its surface, causing the ices to boil away. This gas streams away carrying along large amounts of dust, and together they build up the coma.

This image was obtained with Rosetta’s navigation camera on 21 June 2015, when the spacecraft was 177 km from the comet centre.

Parts of the nucleus are lit by sunlight, revealing the variety of terrains that are found on this curious object. The diffuse luminosity, produced by the comet’s activity, is visible all around the nucleus, but appears especially striking in the upper part of the image.

The small lobe of this oddly shaped comet, visible at the top left in this orientation, is crowned by several jets of outflowing material, streaming into space from the surface.

Signs of activity are also visible around the ‘neck’ region that connects the two lobes, set against cliffs that are cast in shadow.

The comet’s large lobe, to the bottom right, reveals the rich morphology of the nucleus, with rugged terrains, circular features and smoother portions punctuated by boulders.

Rosetta will keep observing how the comet’s activity evolves in the lead up to perihelion, and for a full year after that, until the end of the mission in September 2016.

This image is published for the first time in today's CometWatch on the Rosetta blog.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO) licence. The user is allowed to reproduce, distribute, adapt, translate and publicly perform this publication, without explicit permission, provided that the content is accompanied by an acknowledgement that the source is credited as 'ESA - European Space Agency’, a direct link to the licence text is provided and that it is clearly indicated if changes were made to the original content. Adaptation/translation/derivatives must be distributed under the same licence terms as this publication. The user must not give any suggestion that ESA necessarily endorses the modifications that you have made. No warranties are given. The licence may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material. Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from ESA. To view a copy of this licence, please visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/igo

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Surrounded by Gaia

A full-size working model of Gaia’s internal systems arrived in Germany this week. The Avionics Model is mounted in a circular set-up representing the systems on the actual satellite, now orbiting the Sun–Earth L2 point about 1 500 000 km from Earth.

With the model at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany, the ESA flight control specialists responsible for Gaia now have access to a fully functional test bench of the inner workings of the billion-star surveyor.

The model will remain at ESOC for the rest of the mission, with the team trained to use and maintain it with the support of Airbus Defence and Space, Toulouse, the prime contractor during Gaia’s development.

The model was a whopping 4x4 m at its base, and could only be moved at night owing to its size.

Gaia is on a mission to make the largest, most precise 3D map of our Galaxy by surveying more than a thousand million stars.

Gaia will monitor each of its target stars about 70 times over a five-year period. It will precisely chart their positions, distances, movements and changes in brightness. It is expected to discover hundreds of thousands of new celestial objects, such as extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs, and observe hundreds of thousands of asteroids within our own Solar System.

The mission will also study some 500 000 distant quasars and will provide stringent new tests of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

In the image (L-R): Sonia Perez (AirbusD&S), Andreas Rudolph, Kevin Kewin, Guillermo Lorenzo. More images via Flickr.

Gaia mission operations

Gaia mission website

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Surrounded by Gaia

A full-size working model of Gaia’s internal systems arrived in Germany this week. The Avionics Model is mounted in a circular set-up representing the systems on the actual satellite, now orbiting the Sun–Earth L2 point about 1 500 000 km from Earth.

With the model at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany, the ESA flight control specialists responsible for Gaia now have access to a fully functional test bench of the inner workings of the billion-star surveyor.

The model will remain at ESOC for the rest of the mission, with the team trained to use and maintain it with the support of Airbus Defence and Space, Toulouse, the prime contractor during Gaia’s development.

The model was a whopping 4x4 m at its base, and could only be moved at night owing to its size.

Gaia is on a mission to make the largest, most precise 3D map of our Galaxy by surveying more than a thousand million stars.

Gaia will monitor each of its target stars about 70 times over a five-year period. It will precisely chart their positions, distances, movements and changes in brightness. It is expected to discover hundreds of thousands of new celestial objects, such as extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs, and observe hundreds of thousands of asteroids within our own Solar System.

The mission will also study some 500 000 distant quasars and will provide stringent new tests of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

In the image (L-R): Sonia Perez (AirbusD&S), Andreas Rudolph, Kevin Kewin, Guillermo Lorenzo. More images via Flickr.

Gaia mission operations

Gaia mission website

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Final payload integration begins for Arianespace’s upcoming Ariane 5 launch

Arianespace's next Ariane 5 flight has entered its final preparations with installation of Star One C4 on the launcher's SYLDA dual-passenger dispenser system - positioning it for the upper slot of this July 8 mission's payload arrangement.

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