ESA kosmose uudised
While the climate crisis is, unfortunately, a reality, it is all too easy to assume that every aspect of our changing world is a consequence of climate change. Assumptions play no role in key environmental assessments and mitigation strategies such as we will see in the upcoming UN climate change COP-26 conference – it’s the science and hard facts that are critical. New research published this week is a prime example of facts that matter. Using model projections combined with satellite data from ESA’s Climate Change Initiative, this latest research shows that the global rise in the temperature of lake water and dwindling lake-ice cover can only be explained by the increase in greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution – in other words, humans are clearly to blame.
ESA Impact October Council edition
Great images and videos of climate change on view, BepiColombo flies by Mercury, Cheops gets a surprise, and more
On 22 September, around midday, ESA’s Integral spacecraft went into emergency Safe Mode. One of the spacecraft’s three active ‘reaction wheels’ had turned off without warning and stopped spinning, causing a ripple effect that meant the satellite itself began to rotate.
After the Sun ejected a violent mass of fast-moving plasma into space on 9 October, ESA waited for the storm to strike. A few days later, the coronal mass ejection (CME) arrived at Earth, crashing into our planet’s magnetosphere, and lighting up the sky.
CMEs explode from the Sun, rush through the Solar System and while doing so speed up the solar wind – a stream of charged particles continuously released from the Sun’s upper atmosphere.
While most of the solar wind is blocked by Earth’s protective magnetosphere, some charged particles become trapped in Earth’s magnetic field and flow down to the geomagnetic poles, colliding with the upper atmosphere to create the beautiful Aurora.
A marbled sky
This stunning video was created from images taken every minute during this recent period of intense auroral activity in the early hours of 12 October, by an all-sky camera in Kiruna, Sweden – part of ESA’s Space Weather Service Network. The goal of such cameras is to view as much as the sky as possible, so they are fitted with a 'fish-eye' lens to see horizon to horizon when pointed straight up.
The video, running in half-speed to accentuate the beautiful auroral motion, starts with a mass of green, swirling structures, created when energetic particles in the solar wind collide with oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, which then, ‘excited’ gives off light in the green range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This typically occurs at around 120 – 180 kilometres from Earth’s surface.
As we humans have evolved to be very adept at seeing different shades of green, it’s the most predominant colour we see. Harder to see is the purple aurora seen later in the video, this time created as energetic particles strike ‘ionic’ nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere.
Not just beautiful, such observations are vital to understanding the complex, and sometimes hazardous interactions between the Sun and Earth.
“What I love about this video is the chance to see this beautiful, purple aurora, more clearly visible during intense geomagnetic storms” explains Hannah Laurens, RHEA Space Weather Applications Scientist based at ESOC.
“The movement of this swirly structure in space and time is often referred to as auroral dynamics, and this is very important when studying the relationship between the ionosphere and magnetosphere, linked by lines of magnetic field. The aurora is a manifestation of complex drivers operating in the distant magnetosphere which makes it a useful, and beautiful, tool with which to monitor space weather conditions”.
A beautiful side of something more troubling
The all-sky auroral camera is operated by the Kiruna Atmospheric and Geophysical Observatory (KAGO) within the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), and data from here is provided as part of the ESA’s network of space weather services within the Agency’s Space Safety Programme.
This is the first auroral display captured by the instrument following its integration into the ESA Space Weather Portal, which provides timely information to anyone affected by the Sun’s outbursts – from airline pilots, to operators of spacecraft and power grids, or even hopeful aurora hunters.
While humans on Earth are protected by Earth’s magnetic field, Space Weather can have an extreme and disruptive impact on satellites in orbit and infrastructure on Earth, and ultimately our society. For this reason, ESA’s Space Weather Service Network continues to monitor our star and the conditions around Earth, to provide information to keep our systems safe.
In 2027, ESA will launch a first-of-its kind mission to monitor the Sun from a unique vantage point. Studying our star from the side, it will provide a stream of data that will warn of potentially hazardous regions before they roll into view from Earth.
Credit: All-sky camera, Kiruna Atmospheric and Geophysical Observatory (KAGO) within the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF). Data provided as part of ESA’s Space Weather Service Network.
Week in images: 11 - 15 October 2021
Discover our week through the lens
These are exciting days at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana and throughout several sites in ESA Member States as the development of Ariane 6 enters its final phase. Ariane 6 parts are being shipped from Europe for combined tests on the new Ariane 6 launch base. These tests rehearse all activities and systems involving the rocket and launch base on an Ariane 6 launch campaign. On the final test, the Ariane 6 core stage will perform a static hot firing while standing on its recently inaugurated launch pad. It will be from this new launch base that ESA’s Ariane 6 rocket will soon be launched for the first time.
Meanwhile in Europe, Ariane 6’s upper stage will experience the conditions of space at a new test bench at the DLR German Aerospace Center in Lampoldshausen. After this, all is ready for the much anticipated first flight of ESA’s new heavy-lift rocket from Europe’s Spaceport.
It includes an interview with :
- Daniel Neuenschwander, Director of Space Transportation in English, French and German
- Tony Dos Santos, Technical Manager at Europe’s Spaceport, ESA in English
The magnetic and particle environment around Mercury was sampled by BepiColombo for the first time during the mission’s close flyby of the planet at 199 km on 1-2 October 2021, while the huge gravitational pull of the planet was felt by its accelerometers.
The magnetic and accelerometer data have been converted into sound files and presented here for the first time. They capture the ‘sound’ of the solar wind as it bombards a planet close to the Sun, the flexing of the spacecraft as it responded to the change in temperature as it flew from the night to dayside of the planet, and even the sound of a science instrument rotating to its ‘park’ position.
New Delhi, the capital and second-largest city of India, is featured in this image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission.
How can a digital replica of Earth help us understand our planet’s past, present and future? As part of the fourth edition of Φ-week taking place this week, a group of European scientists have put forward their ideas on the practical implementation of Digital Twins and the potential application areas for a Digital Twin Earth in the real world.
Between September 1982 and December 2020, at least 51 512 people were rescued on land and at sea with help from a network of Earth-orbiting satellites able to detect and locate emergency distress beacons.
What do high-tech sponges, aircraft shaped like falcons and 3D printers on the Moon have in common?
They can all be found among the topics of the 87 research and development activities funded by ESA's Discovery & Preparation programme between November 2020 and April 2021.
The second European Service Module is prepared for shipment to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA this week at Airbus facilities in Bremen, Germany. Made up of components from ten European countries, ESM-2 will power the first crewed flight to the Moon on the Artemis II mission.
The European Service Modules are a key element of the Orion spacecraft, the first to return humans to the Moon since the 1970s.
Built by the brightest minds in Europe, the module provides propulsion, power and thermal control and will supply astronauts with water and oxygen. The ESM is installed underneath the Crew Module Adapter and Crew Module and together they form the Orion spacecraft.
ESM-2 is currently in route to Florida on an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft, where NASA is finalising preparations for the launch of Artemis I. The first European Service Module has long since been mated with the crew module to form the first Orion spacecraft ready to launch to the Moon. It will soon be integrated on top of the Space Launch System rocket in its final preparations for Artemis I, during which it will be put to the test when it powers the uncrewed maiden flight of the Orion spacecraft on an orbit which will go as far as 64 000 km behind the Moon, around, and back.
ESA is delivering up to six modules to NASA, with three more currently under negotiation. These Artemis missions will allow for assembly and service of the lunar Gateway.
Airbus is ESA’s prime contractor for building the first six service modules. The third European Service Module is at the start of its integration phase where equipment, brackets and harness will be added to the structure.
Follow more Orion news on the blog.
The second European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft is on its way to USA. It is the last stopover on Earth before this made-in-Europe powerhouse takes the first astronauts around the Moon on the Artemis II mission.
An upgrade to ESA’s three 35-metre deep-space antennas will boost science data return by 40% by cooling the ‘antenna feed’ to just 10 degrees above the lowest temperature possible in the Universe.
Interactive or PDF, available in six languages
The James Webb Space Telescope will be the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space.
Webb’s flight into orbit will take place on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
Webb is the next great space science observatory, designed to answer outstanding questions about the Universe and to make breakthrough discoveries in all fields of astronomy. Webb will see farther into our origins – from the formation of stars and planets, to the birth of the first galaxies in the early Universe.
During the first month in space, on its way to the second Langrange point (L2), Webb will undergo a complex unfolding sequence. Key steps in this sequence are unfolding Webb’s sunshield – a five-layer, diamond-shaped structure the size of a tennis court – and the iconic 6.5-metre wide mirror, consisting of a honeycomb-like pattern of 18 hexagonal, gold-coated mirror segments.
Working with partners, ESA was responsible for the development and qualification of Ariane 5 adaptations for the Webb mission and for the procurement of the launch service. As well as launch services, ESA contributes to two of the four science instruments (NIRSpec and MIRI), and provides personnel to support mission operations.
Webb is an international partnership between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Credit: ESA/ATG medialab
Music: 'Once In A Lifetime' by Philip Guyler and 'Halcyon Days' by Ian Hughes
Since the Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on 19 September 2021, lava has burned through homes, roads and farmlands causing mass destruction on the west part of the Canary Island of La Palma. Satellite imagery has helped authorities monitor and manage the ongoing crisis. From capturing images of the rivers of lava, to measuring gas emissions and assessing damage, the fleet of Copernicus Sentinel satellites have been providing crucial data for local teams.
Kicking off with a bold flourish, Φ-week 2021 promises to bring space even closer to the forefront of addressing society’s biggest challenges, namely issues associated with the climate crisis, while boosting the economy through transformative New Space, artificial intelligence, and quantum and cognitive computing.