SOFIA Team Home After Observing the Southern Skies

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has returned from a six-week deployment to study portions of the universe visible only from Earth's Southern Hemisphere. The flying observatory was based at the National Science Foundation's U.S. Antarctic Program facility at Christchurch International Airport from June 15 to July 24.

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AEHF Achieves Initial Operational Capability

General John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander, declared Initial Operational Capability for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system on July 28.  This significant achievement reflects superb collaboration between numerous organizations, including Headquarters Air Force Space Command, the Space and Missile Systems Center, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and the developers, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Advanced EHF also includes International Partners from the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.
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NEEMO Undersea Crew Tests Tools and Techniques For Future Spacewalks

This photograph of NASA astronaut Serena Aunon (@AstroSerena) moving tools and equipment underwater was taken during the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 20 mission. NEEMO 20 is focusing on evaluating tools and techniques being tested for future spacewalks on a variety of surfaces and gravity levels.

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Luca and Paxi

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano receives a visit from ESA Education mascot Paxi, at the Aquarius underwater research station off the coast of Florida, USA. Luca is part of the NEEMO 20 crew that has been living and working in the research station since 20 July. The twentieth NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations crew also includes NASA astronauts Serena Aunon and David Coan and JAXA's Norishige Kanai.

The crew is living and working almost 20 m underwater to test tools and techniques for spacewalks, as they venture outside the base in full scuba gear. By adjusting their buoyancy, the aquanauts can simulate the gravity levels found on the Moon, Mars and asteroids.

Space agencies are always looking for ways to prepare and train for spaceflight without leaving Earth. ESA sends astronauts underground in Sicilian caves and NASA goes underwater. Astronauts from all Space Station partners join to make the experience as realistic as possible – working efficiently and safely with a culturally diverse team is part of the package.

Connect with Luca at: lucaparmitano.esa.int
Follow Paxi on Twitter and Facebook

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New Hubble view of the Lagoon Nebula

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the Lagoon Nebula, an object with a deceptively tranquil name. The region is filled with intense winds from hot stars, churning funnels of gas, and energetic star formation, all embedded within an intricate haze of gas and pitch-dark dust.

Read more about Stormy seas in Sagittarius

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Proba-V views Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth – despite being right next to the Pacific Ocean – imaged by ESA’s Proba-V minisatellite.

On average, only a few millimetres of rain reach the arid landscape annually. The cold Humboldt Current running along the northern Chilean coast keeps moisture bound up to the west, while the Andes Mountains block rainfall from the east.

The 100 m-resolution image shows the coast and dry river valleys of the Atacama. The blue–green area to the east is the Salar de Surire, a salt plain containing several lakes with nesting flamingo colonies. Just northeast of this plain, the 5470 m-high Pukintika volcano is visible as a light-blue area.

Launched on 7 May 2013, Proba-V is a miniaturised ESA satellite tasked with a full-scale mission: to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire planet every two days.

Its main camera’s continent-spanning 2250 km swath width collects light in the blue, red, near-infrared and mid-infrared wavebands at 300 m resolution and down to 100 m resolution in its central field of view.

VITO, the Flemish institute for technological research, processes and then distributes Proba-V data to users. VITO has a produced an online gallery highlighting some of the mission’s most striking images so far, including views of storms, fires and deforestation.

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Northern Italy

Lakes on the southern side of the Italian Alps are pictured in this early acquisition by the Sentinel-2A satellite.

Processed using the high-resolution infrared channel of the satellite’s multispectral camera, the image shows healthy vegetation in red, such as the hills and mountains in the upper part of the image.

From the top of the image we see the southern part of Lake Maggiore. Straddling the border of Italy’s Lombardy and Piedmont regions – with its northern end in Switzerland (not visible) – the lake covers an area of over 210 sq km.

Its outlet, the Ticino river, snakes south past Milan–Malpensa Airport at the bottom of the image.

Near the centre of the image is the glacial Lake Varese, appearing lighter blue compared to the other lakes in the image. This demonstrates Sentinel-2’s ability to measure differences in the conditions of inland water bodies – one of the mission’s main applications along with land cover, agriculture and forestry.   

This image, also featured on the Earth from Space video programme, is a subset of Sentinel-2’s very first acquisition on 27 June 2015, just four days after launch.

The satellite is in its commissioning phase, which includes calibrating its multispectral imager. But the initial images from its first scan of Earth foreshadow the mission’s land-monitoring applications in areas such as agriculture, the monitoring of inland and coastal waters and land-cover mapping.

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A nice fit: Payload checkout is advancing for Arianespace’s September Soyuz flight to deploy the next two Galileo satellites

Arianespace is gearing up this week for its upcoming Soyuz Flight VS12 – scheduled for September 10 from French Guiana - with initial fit-check activities completed for the mission's two passengers: the latest European Galileo navigation satellites.

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A nice fit: Payload checkout is advancing for Arianespace’s September Soyuz flight to deploy the next two Galileo satellites

Arianespace is gearing up this week for its upcoming Soyuz Flight VS12 – scheduled for September 10 from French Guiana - with initial fit-check activities completed for the mission's two passengers: the latest European Galileo navigation satellites.

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