At a time when some delusional people, some with major responsabilities, continue to deny human major role on climate changes, Europe peaks to temperatures never known before since the beginning of temperature records. Learn more about this situation at ESA.
The Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, will target 15 October to 14 November 2019 for launch.
Cheops will lift off on a Soyuz rocket operated by Arianespace from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, sharing the ride into space with a satellite that is part of the Italian Cosmo-SkyMed constellation. The two satellites will separate in turn into their own orbits soon after ascent, with Cheops operating in a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 700 km.
The satellite will observe individual bright stars that are known to host exoplanets, in particular those in the Earth-to-Neptune size range. By targeting known planets, Cheops will know exactly when and where to point to catch the exoplanet as it transits across the disk of its host star. Its ability to observe multiple transits of each planet will enable scientists to achieve the high-precision transit signatures that are needed to measure the sizes of small planets. (learn more)
Based on a new theoretical model, a team of scientists explored the rich data archive of ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra space observatories to find pulsating X-ray emission from three sources. The discovery, relying on previous gamma-ray observations of the pulsars, provides a novel tool to investigate the mysterious mechanisms of pulsar emission, which will be important to understand these fascinating objects and use them for space navigation in the future.
On 23 April 2015, the European Space Agency together with NASA celebrate 25 years since the Hubble Space Telescope has been in orbit! We would like to invite you to join the celebrations by promoting an excellent opportunity to engage your students.
The ESA/Hubble Ode to Hubble competition lets anyone inspired by Hubble express their feelings or share their ideas in a creative and innovative way by creating an original short video. Invite your students to get creative and they could win a piece of Hubble!
As long as it can be uploaded as a YouTube, Vine and Instagram video less than three minutes long participants can submit anything. Pan over a drawing, scroll over a poem or text, film your own Hubblecast, film yourself performing or talking about a Hubble topic, create an animation or compose a piece of music and upload it as a video piece. It just has to be innovative, creative and, most of all, inspired by Hubble, or one of its great discoveries or images.
There are two categories for the competition.
- One for those who are 25 and under — born in Hubble’s lifetime. Entry form for those who are 25 and under
- One for over 25s. Entry form for over 25s
with each having five runners up and one winner. If you don’t create a piece of your own, you can still get involved by crowd-judging the entries to whittle the selection down to a shortlist.
The two winners will receive the once-in-a-lifetime prize of a section of Hubble’s solar array mounted in perspex. These little pieces of Hubble are part of the huge solar arrays that spent 3 years orbiting the Earth, giving Hubble its power, until they were replaced in 1993. The winners will also receive a metal-backed copy of the 25th anniversary image signed by astronomers and astronauts who have worked on Hubble. The two winning videos will be featured in our special “Ode to Hubble” Hubblecast. The producers of the five shortlisted videos for each category will receive the wonderful book The Universe through the Eyes of Hubble and their videos will be hosted on the spacetelescope.org website.
- Submit your video by 12 March 2015! (11:59pm CEST)
- Starting 13 March 2015 crowd-vote the entries until 1 April 2015!
Source: NASA Science News
OSIRIS narrow angle camera view of 67P/C-G from a distance of 1000 km on 1 August 2014.
Note that the dark spot is an artefact from the onboard CCD camera associated to bad pixels.
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
As the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft closes to within 1000 km of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the Rosetta science team has released a new image and temperature measurements of the comet's core. The temperature data show that 67P is too hot to be covered in ice and must instead have a dark, dusty crust.(learn more)
This year ESA is once again organising a summer workshop for secondary school teachers of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related subjects. The workshop will be held at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), located in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, from 21 - 25 July 2014. (learn more)
Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have observed a unique and baffling object in the asteroid belt that looks like a rotating lawn sprinkler or badminton shuttlecock. While this object is on an asteroid-like orbit, it looks like a comet, and is sending out tails of dust into space. (read more)
Astronomers have used observations from Hubble’s CANDELS survey to explore the sizes, shapes, and colours of distant galaxies over the last 80% of the Universe’s history. In the Universe today galaxies come in a variety of different forms, and are classified via a system known as the Hubble Sequence — and it turns out that this sequence was already in place as early as 11 billion years ago.
Source: ESA Press Release 11-2013
ESA's Herschel space observatory has exhausted, as planned, its supply of liquid helium coolant, concluding over three years of pioneering observations of the cool Universe.
The mission began with over 2300 litres of liquid helium, which has been slowly evaporating since the final top-up the day before Herschel's launch on 14 May 2009.
The evaporation of the liquid helium was essential to cool the observatory's instruments to close to absolute zero, allowing Herschel to make highly sensitive scientific observations of the cold Universe until today.
The confirmation that the helium is finally exhausted came this afternoon at the beginning of the spacecraft's daily communication session with its ground station in Western Australia, with a clear rise in temperatures measured in all of Herschel's instruments.
"Herschel has exceeded all expectations, providing us with an incredible treasure trove of data that will keep astronomers busy for many years to come," says Prof. Alvaro Giménez, ESA's Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
Herschel has made over 35 000 scientific observations, amassing more than 25 000 hours of science data from about 600 observing programmes. A further 2000 hours of calibration observations also contribute to the rich dataset, which is based at ESA's European Space Astronomy Centre, near Madrid in Spain.
The archive will become the legacy of the mission. It is expected to provide even more discoveries than have been made during the lifetime of the Herschel mission.
"Herschel's ground-breaking scientific haul is in no little part down to the excellent work done by European industry, institutions and academia in developing, building and operating the observatory and its instruments," adds Thomas Passvogel, ESA's Herschel and Planck Project Manager.
The mission resulted in a number of technological advancements applicable to future space missions and potential spin-off technologies. The mission saw the development of advanced cryogenic systems, the construction of the largest telescope mirror ever flown in space, and the utilisation of the most sensitive direct detectors for light in the far-infrared to millimetre range. Manufacturing techniques enabling the Herschel mission have already been applied to the next generation of ESA's space missions, including Gaia.
"Herschel has offered us a new view of the hitherto hidden Universe, pointing us to previously unseen processes of star birth and galaxy formation, and allowing us to trace water through the Universe from molecular clouds to newborn stars and their planet-forming discs and belts of comets," says Göran Pilbratt, ESA's Herschel Project Scientist.
Herschel's stunning images of intricate networks of dust and gas filaments within our Milky Way Galaxy provide an illustrated history of star formation. These unique far-infrared observations have given astronomers a new insight into how turbulence stirs up gas in the interstellar medium, giving rise to a filamentary, web-like structure within cold molecular clouds.
If conditions are right, gravity then takes over and fragments the filaments into compact cores. Deeply embedded inside these cores are protostars, the seeds of new stars that have gently heated their surrounding dust to just a few degrees above absolute zero, revealing their locations to Herschel's heat-sensitive eyes.
Following the water trail
Over the first few million years in the life of newborn stars, the formation of planets can be followed in the dense discs of gas and dust swirling around them. In particular, Herschel has been following the trail of water, a molecule crucial to life as we know it, from star-formation clouds to stars to planet-forming discs.
Herschel has detected thousands of Earth ocean's worth of water vapour in these discs, with even greater quantities of ice locked up on the surface of dust grains and in comets.
Closer to home, Herschel has also studied the composition of the water-ice in Comet Hartley-2, finding it to have almost exactly the same isotopic ratios as the water in our oceans.
These findings fuel the debate about how much of Earth's water was delivered via impacting comets. Combined with the observations of massive comet belts around other stars, astronomers hope to understand whether a similar mechanism could be at play in other planetary systems, too.
Galaxies across the Universe
Herschel has also contributed to our knowledge of star formation on the grandest scales, spanning much of cosmic space and time. By studying star formation in distant galaxies, it has identified many that are forming stars at prodigious rates, even in the early years of the Universe's 13.8 billion-year life.
These intense star-forming galaxies produce hundreds to thousands of solar masses' worth of stars each year. By comparison, our own Milky Way galaxy produces the equivalent of only one Sun-like star per year on average.
How galaxies can support star formation on such massive scales during the first few billions of years of the Universe's existence is an unsolved mystery for scientists studying galaxy formation and evolution. Herschel observations are hinting that when the Universe was young, galaxies had much more gas to feed from, enabling high rates of star formation even in the absence of the collisions between galaxies normally needed to spark these spectacular bouts of star birth.
"Although this is the end of Herschel observing, it is certainly not the end of the mission - there are plenty more discoveries to come," says Dr Pilbratt.
"We will now concentrate on making our data accessible in the form of the best possible maps, spectra and various catalogues to support the work of present and future astronomers. Nevertheless we're sad to see the end of this phase: thank you, Herschel!"
It is not every day that astronauts can claim to return to Earth with a new species of life. But when the astronauts on ESA’s CAVES underground training course returned to the surface they were carrying a special type of woodlouse. (read more)
ESA’s Planck space telescope has made the first conclusive detection of a bridge of hot gas connecting a pair of galaxy clusters across 10 million light-years of intergalactic space.(read more)
Galaxies come in all shapes and sizes: from those with compact fuzzy bulges or central bars to galaxies with winding spiral arms. Astronomer Edwin Hubble classified these different breeds of galaxies by means of a diagram known as the Hubble Tuning Fork.
The tuning fork shape presents elliptical galaxies along the handle, and two different populations of spiral galaxies on the fork’s ‘prongs’ to differentiate between spiral galaxies with a central bar, and those without.
The diagram also describes the shape of the galaxies. Elliptical galaxies are positioned further along the handle towards the fork depending on how elongated they appear, while spiral galaxies are organised by how tightly wound their arms are.
Of course, there are always exceptions, and a separate class of ‘irregular’ galaxies conforms to neither group, perhaps as a result of a collision or merging event disrupting their shape.
In this interactive tuning fork diagram, 61 nearby galaxies studied by ESA’s Herschel and NASA’s Spitzer space telescopes are presented. The galaxies are located 10–100 million light-years from Earth and were surveyed as part of two programmes: the Key Insights on Nearby Galaxies: a Far-Infrared Survey with Herschel (Kingfish) and the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (Sings).
Rather than stars, the images show dust between them that is gently heated by hot young stars, visible only to heat-seeking infrared telescopes such as Herschel and Spitzer.
Each individual image is a three-color composite showing warm dust (blue) detected by Spitzer at 24 microns, and cooler dust traced by Herschel at 100 microns (green) and 250 microns (red).
By clicking on each of the galaxies, more information is provided about their classification, distance, size and location in the sky.
The galaxies were chosen to cover a wide range of characteristics to improve our understanding of the processes linking star formation to the local interstellar environment in the nearby Universe.
Astronomers have found evidence for a dying Sun-like star coming briefly back to life after casting its gassy shells out into space, mimicking the possible fate our own Solar System faces in a few billion years. (read more)
ESA’s Sun-watching Proba-2 satellite experienced three partial solar eclipses last night while lucky observers watching from northern Australia were treated to a total solar eclipse.
During a total solar eclipse, the Moon moves in front of the Sun as seen from Earth, their alignment and separation such that the much closer Moon appears large enough to block out the light from the much more distant Sun.
Since Proba-2 orbits Earth about 14.5 times per day, it can dip in and out of the Moon’s shadow around the time of a solar eclipse. The constant change in viewing angle of Proba-2 meant that the satellite passed through the shadow three times during the eclipse yesterday, as shown in the video presented here.
As the Sun was never completely covered up from Proba-2’s vantage point, each eclipse was only partial. (read more)
Source: ESA News
It’s a familiar dilemma: you want to find a partner, but you aren’t sure how to do it. If you’re lucky enough to be a European space technology, or are looking for one, on 20 November you can turn to Space-Match. (read more)
Source: ESA/Hubble heic1216
Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have obtained a remarkable new view of a whopper of an elliptical galaxy, with a core bigger than any seen before. There are two intriguing explanations for the puffed up core, both related to the action of one or more black holes, and the researchers have not yet been able to determine which is correct. (read more)