06 Dec 2019
06 Dec 2019

Nobel Prize laureates call to Space Station


Video:
00:54:35

Station on 6 December 2019. The call was made from Stockholm, Sweden, at the start of Nobel Week festivities. ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang moderated the conversation between two of the Nobel Prize laureates in physics, Didier Queloz and Michel Mayor, and the Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry, Stanley Whittingham.

Source: ESA news

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06 Dec 2019
06 Dec 2019

New reentry CubeSat in orbit

New reentry CubeSat in orbit
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ESA’s latest space mission has reached orbit. The Qarman CubeSat flew to space aboard SpaceX’s Dragon launched from Florida, USA, on Thursday 5 December, ahead of a planned rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday 8 December. From there, Qarman – seen here during plasma wind tunnel testing – will be deployed into space in late January 2020.

CubeSats are low-cost nanosatellites based around standard 10 cm units and typically end their spaceflights burning up in the atmosphere as their orbits gradually decay. But the three-unit Qarman (QubeSat for Aerothermodynamic Research and Measurements on Ablation) is designed with this fiery fate in mind.

Designed for ESA by Belgium’s Von Karman Institute, Qarman will use internal temperature, pressure and brightness sensors to gather precious data on the extreme conditions of reentry as its leading edges are enveloped in scorching plasma.

Qarman’s blunt-nosed front contains most of its sensors, protected by a cork-based heatshield. The CubeSat is expected to survive its reentry, although not its subsequent fall to Earth – making it imperative that its results make it back in the time in between, using the Iridium commercial satellite network.

Other ESA cargo launched for the International Space Station includes radiation-resistant aquatic organisms to study their secrets and learn how they could protect astronauts and people on Earth from harmful radiation.

Source: ESA news

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06 Dec 2019
06 Dec 2019

Life of a foam

Foam bubbles

A fine coffee froth does not last forever. The bubbles that make the milk light and creamy are eventually torn apart by the pull of gravity. But there is a place where foams have a more stable life – in the weightless environment of the International Space Station, bubbles don’t burst so quickly and foams remain wet for longer.

Source: ESA news

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06 Dec 2019

Mato Grosso, Brazil

Mato Grosso, Brazil
Image:

The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission takes us over part of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso deep in the Amazon interior.

This image combines three separate radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission taken about two years apart to show change in crops and land cover over time.

Unlike images from satellites carrying optical or ‘camera-like’ instruments, images acquired  with imaging radar are interpreted by studying the intensity of the backscatter radar signal, which is related to the roughness of the ground.

Here, the first image, from 2 May 2015, is picked out in blue; the second, from 16 March 2017, picks out changes in green; and the third from 18 March 2019 in red; areas in grey depict little or no change between 2015 and 2019.

Ironically, Mato Grosso means ‘great woods’, but, as these coloured rectangular shapes portray, much of the tropical forest has been cut down and given over to farming. While this image only shows a small area, Mato Grosso is one of Brazil’s top cattle-producing and crop-producing states, with the main crops including corn, soya and wheat.

However, although the state has one of the highest historical rates of deforestation in Amazonian Brazil, deforestation is slowing and Mato Grosso is now said to be a global leader in climate-change solutions.

As an advanced radar mission, Copernicus Sentinel-1 can image the surface of Earth through cloud and rain and regardless of whether it is day or night. This makes it ideal for monitoring areas that tend to be covered by cloud such as rainforests.

This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.

Source: ESA news

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06 Dec 2019

Cheops: Europe's Exoplanet Mission


Video:
00:02:45

ESA’s first mission dedicated to investigating planets outside our solar system is scheduled for launch on a Soyuz rocket from the European spaceport in French Guiana on 17 December 2019.

Cheops – Characterising ExOPlanet Satellite – will study known exoplanets that are orbiting bright stars. The aim is to obtain detailed information about these planets to find out more about their composition and internal structure.

The mission is a partnership between ESA and Switzerland with additional contributions from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Source: ESA news

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05 Dec 2019

35-year data record charts sea temperature change

Warming seas

Four trillion satellite measurements, taken over four decades from 1981 to 2018, have been merged to create a continuous global record that will help to understand the science behind Earth’s climate.

A paper published recently in Nature Scientific Data describes how this new dataset of global sea-surface temperature is one of the longest satellite climate data records available. The dataset will play a key role in evaluating global models used to predict how our oceans will influence future climate change.

Source: ESA news

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05 Dec 2019

Sentinel-6 Mission


Video:
00:05:20

In a cleanroom in Ottobrunn, Germany, the latest Copernicus Sentinel satellite is ready for final testing before it is packed up and shipped to the US for liftoff next year. Designed and built to chart changing sea level, it is the first of two identical Sentinel-6 satellites that will be launched consecutively to continue the time series of sea-level measurements. This new mission builds on heritage from previous ocean topography satellites, including the French–US Topex-Poseidon and Jason missions, previous ESA missions such as the ERS satellites, Envisat and CryoSat, as well as Copernicus Sentinel-3. With millions of people around the world at risk from rising seas, it is essential to continue measuring the changing height of the sea surface so that decision-makers are equipped to take appropriate mitigating action – as is being currently highlighted at the COP-25 Climate Change Conference in Spain.

Source: ESA news

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