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The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Lake St. Clair, forming the border between Ontario, Canada to the east, and Michigan, US to the west.
The Saint Clair River is visible at the top of the image and flows southwards, connecting the southern end of Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair, visible in the centre of the image. The river branches into several channels before reaching the lake, creating a seven-mouth delta. Much of the area surrounding the delta is used for agriculture.
The Thames River, visible east of the lake, begins in a swampy area of Ontario, before emptying its muddy waters into Lake St. Clair. Here the murky-coloured waters mix with the turquoise waters from the Saint Clair River, creating this fusion of colour visible in the heart-shaped lake. The waters then exit the lake via the Detroit River.
Lake St. Clair is approximately 40 km long and 40 km wide, with an average depth of around 3 metres. The lake is a popular site for fishing and boating, and more than 100 species of fish inhabit the lake including walleye, rainbow trout and muskellunge.
Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, is visible directly above the Detroit River. The city lies on a relatively flat plain and its extensive network of roads in the city are clearly visible in the image.
Detroit is nicknamed the “motor city” as it was the key hub for American auto-manufacturing for over a century. It was also home to the first mile of concrete highway, the first four-way three-colour traffic light and the world’s first urban freeway.
In this wintery image, captured on 26 March 2019, many of the frozen lakes northwest of the lake can be seen partially frozen over. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission allows inland bodies of water to be closely monitored.
This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
Interview with ESA Director General Jan Wörner following the conclusion of Space19+, the ESA Council at Ministerial Level, held in Seville, Spain, 27-28 November.
ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, has concluded in Seville, Spain, with the endorsement of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of ESA and the whole European space sector. The meeting brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU.
This week, the UN World Meteorological Organization announced that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached yet another high. This ongoing trend is not only heating up the planet, but also affecting the chemical composition of our oceans. Until recently, it has been difficult to monitor ‘ocean acidification’, but scientists are exploring new ways to combine information from different sources, including from ESA’s SMOS mission, to shed new light on this major environmental concern.
The Orion spacecraft that will fly farther from Earth on the Artemis I mission than any human-rated vehicle has ever flown before, arrived at NASA’s Plum Brook Station yesterday. This was the first voyage of the assembled spacecraft – the size of a two-storey house – that includes NASA’s Crew Module and Crew Module Adapter as well as ESA’s European Service Module.
Strange ribbons of purple light that appeared in the sky – known as Steve – became the subject of debate in 2017, as their origins were unbeknown to scientists. Now, photographs of this remarkable phenomena have been studied to understand their exact position in the night sky.
Large antennas are our only current way of communicating through space across vast distances, and every now and then they need to be spruced up to ensure we can keep in touch with our deep-space exploration spacecraft.
Press Release N° 21–2019
- First ever video call between Space Station and Nobel Prize Laureates.
- Follow live on 6 December 2019.
- Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Jessica Meir will answer the call from space.
Nobel Prize laureates in physics and chemistry will talk to ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir on 6 December as the Nobel Week festivities begin in Stockholm, Sweden.
Follow the press conference from Space19+, the ESA Council at Ministerial Level, live from Seville, Spain, on 28 November. ESA Director General Jan Wörner and Space19+ Co-Chairs, Frédérique Vidal and Manuel Heitor, will participate in the press conference after the conclusion of the meeting.
A Memorandum of Cooperation to further commit to strengthening cooperation in the field of space resources and innovation was signed by Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider and ESA Director General ESA Jan Wörner.
With heavy rain causing flooding and mudslides in both Italy and France this week, parts of Greece have also been affected. The region of Attica, west of Athens, received torrential rain leading to hundreds of houses being flooded – particularly in the beach town of Kineta.
Using images from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, the animation shows the before-and-after of the recent floods from the 24 November. Sediment and mud, caused by the heavy rains, can be seen gushing into the Megara Gulf – stretching 14 km from the coast. Debris, most likely vegetation and rubbish, is visible in brown floating in the waters.
Click here to view the image of the floods at its full 10 m resolution.
The burnt areas surrounding Kineta, following last year’s wildfires, can also be seen in the image. According to Greek media, the downpour led to overturned cars and roads blocked owing to the debris.
The Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service was activated to help respond to the flood. The service uses satellite observations to help civil protection authorities and, in cases of disaster, the international humanitarian community, respond to emergencies.
An Ariane 5, operated by Arianespace, has delivered the TIBA-1 and Inmarsat-GX5 telecom satellites into their planned orbits.
The 10-m high fairing of Europe’s inaugural Vega-C launcher atop a structural model of its upper stage, being prepared for acoustic testing within ESA’s Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF) – which is able to simulate the extreme noise of a rocket take-off.
Vega-C, due for its first flight next year, is a more powerful version of the current Vega launcher aimed at the thriving small satellite market. Three of its four stages will use solid-propellant motors while its AVUM+ fourth stage – the model of which is seen here attached to the fairing – employs liquid propellant, making it reignitable.
The two halves of the fairing weigh in at 450 kg each, made of carbon fibre sandwich panels filled with aluminium honeycomb. They have the vital function of safeguarding launcher payloads during the early part of the launch, not just from atmospheric turbulence but also the high noise levels of the crucial first few seconds after take-off, when sound waves bounce off the ground towards the fairing.
One wall of the LEAF chamber – which stands 11 m wide by 9 m deep and 16.4 m high – incorporates a set of enormous sound horns. Nitrogen shot through the horns can produce a range of noise up to more than 154 decibels, like standing close to multiple jets taking off. LEAF is part of ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
Two sets of test campaigns allow engineers to collect data on the sound levels the upper stage and payload adapter will experience, once with the fairing and once without. Microphones have been placed around and inside the fairing for these qualification-level tests.
The fairing will then return to its manufacturer, Ruag Space in Switzerland, where engineers will carry out the remaining qualification tests on this flight hardware, then fit the pyrotechnic cords that will separate the fairing once Vega-C leaves the atmosphere.
Vega-C’s inaugural flight is scheduled for mid-2020, carrying the Italian Space Agency’s LARES 2 satellite, a large retroreflector for the study of general relativity related to Earth’s gravitational field.
Where does the topic of space come in the priorities of European citizens? Presented in this infographic, the answers may surprise you.
Two Harris Interactive studies conducted online for ESA in December 2018 and September 2019 reveal how passionate and concerned Europeans are about space and its challenges.
The studies used a representative sample of more than 5000 people from the five most populous countries in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom).
The team behind ESA’s Analog-1 rover are all smiles after ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano successfully manoeuvres the rover in the Netherlands from space.
Last week’s dry-run of the Analog-1 experiment, in which Luca completed a “proficiency run” to test the system, set the stage for another flawless performance on 25 November.
Taking command of the rover (centre) located in a hangar in the Netherlands on Monday, Luca expertly drove it to three sites and used its robotic arm to collect rock samples, all while circling our planet at 28 800 km/h on the International Space Station.
Which samples to collect and save for further analysis was decided by a science team based at ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany in conversation with Luca.
The Human Robot Interaction Lab provided the rover and test infrastructure and is located at ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands. They also developed the rover control station that Luca used to drive the rover from the space station.
The team finds novel ways for humans and robots to work together, furthering ESA’s exploration strategy that foresees astronauts controlling robots from orbit around the Moon or Mars or from inside a planetary base.
The Analog-1 rover, for example, is equipped with force feedback so astronauts can feel what the robot feels and adjust their grip accordingly using a joystick that allows for six degrees of motion.
The rover also had advanced motion modes such as “spot turning”, which allowed Luca to manoever it out of tight places.
Both contributed to a successful sampling excursion, despite the 800-millisecond communication delay between Luca in space and the ground teams on Earth.
Acing this test demonstrated the advantage of the technology that ESA has developed to operate rovers from afar in situations such as when an astronaut is in orbit around the Moon while performing science on the surface robotically.
Analog-1 is the latest in a series of human-robot test campaigns that make use of the International Space Station. Called the Multi-purpose End-to-End Robotic Operation Network or Meteron, the project is developing the communication networks, robot interfaces and hardware to operate robots from a distance in space.
The Analog-1 experiment demonstrates the value of human-robotic cooperation in space and the technology that will be used as the basis for many of ESA’s exploration projects. Ministers from ESA’s Member States will convene later this month at the Space19+ in Seville, Spain, to decide on the Agency’s future course.
Follow the opening remarks and discussions from Space19+, the ESA Council at Ministerial Level, live from Seville, Spain, on 27 November.
The first test models of Ariane 6 are being manufactured while Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, is preparing to test the launch vehicle and all systems involved with launch.
Pierre-Yves Cousteau is a marine conservationist, professional diver and filmmaker. Prior to exploring the oceans like his father Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famous undersea explorer, he joined ESA as a Young Graduate Trainee in 2008. Pierre-Yves shares his recollections of ESA and the space sector and his experience of now being the head of his own marine conservation citizen’s organisation.
Ministerial Council Special ESA Impact November 2019