ESA kosmose uudised
How space can boost smart city life was highlighted at two international conferences held last week.
Some 25 000 people from 700 cities in 140 countries attended the events, where ESA showcased the work of dozens of the companies it is working with on smart city projects.
The first map of the global geology of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has been completed, revealing a dynamic world with dunes, lakes, plains, craters and other terrains. The map is based on data from the international Cassini mission, which performed more than 120 flybys of Titan during its time at the Saturn system, between 2004 and 2017.
With a size comparable to that of Mercury, this moon is the only planetary body in our Solar System – besides Earth – known to have stable liquid on its surface. But instead of water raining down from clouds and filling lakes and seas as on Earth, what rains down on Titan and fills its liquid pools is methane and ethane.
This hydrocarbon-based hydrologic cycle has been shaping Titan’s complex geologic landscape, giving rise to the variety of terrains shown in this map. These include plains, which are broad, relatively flat regions (shown in pale green), labyrinths, which refer to tectonically disrupted regions often containing fluvial channels (shown in pink), hummocky, corresponding to hilly terrains, featuring some mountains (shown in pale orange), dunes, which are mostly linear and produced by winds on Titan's surface (shown in purple), impact craters (shown in red), and lakes, currently or previously filled with liquid methane or ethane (shown in blue).
As evident in the map, different geologic terrains have a clear distribution with latitude, with dunes being most prominent around the equator, plains at mid-latitudes and labyrinth terrains and lakes towards the poles. The names of several surface features are indicated on an annotated version of the map, along with the landing site of ESA’s Huygens probe, which landed on Titan on 14 January 2005 as part of the Cassini mission.
To compile this map, scientists relied on a combination of radar, visual, and infrared data gathered by Cassini, in order to penetrate Titan’s thick and hazy atmosphere and identify surface features. The study, led by Rosaly Lopes of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and also involving ESA research fellow Anezina Solomonidou, enabled the scientists to estimate the relative age of different geological units, indicating that dunes and lakes are relatively young, whereas the hummocky or mountainous terrains are the oldest on Titan. The results were recently published in Nature Astronomy.
The map is in Mollweide projection and has a scale of 1:20,000,000.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
The odds are high that you have already interacted with one of ESA’s most-far-reaching inventions without realising it. Terahertz security cameras – currently employed in 18 countries including many major airports and the LA Metro – scan passengers for concealed weapons or contraband in their clothing from up to 10 metres away, operating on an entirely passive, non-invasive basis.
Discover our week through the lens (18-22 November 2019).
Hera is a candidate ESA mission be presented to ESA’s Space19+ meeting next week as part of the Agency’s Space Safety programme, where Europe’s space ministers will take a final decision on flying it.
If approved, Hera will be humankind’s first probe to rendezvous with a binary asteroid system, Didymos. The larger of the two asteroids is orbited by its smaller ‘moon’ – Didymoon – which is due to have its orbit shifted by a collision with US spacecraft DART. Hera will fly close to Didymoon, mapping its entire surface down to a resolution of a few metres, and the surface surrounding the DART crater down to >10 cm resolution, through a series of daring flybys. It will also map much of the surface of the primary Didymos asteroid, providing crucial scientific data from two asteroids in a single mission.
This image is taken from the video Hera: ESA’s Planetary Defence Mission.
Ahead of next week’s ‘Space19+’ Ministerial Council, the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Seville in southern Spain – the destination for this milestone event.
On 27–28 November, Ministers from ESA’s Member States along with Associate Member Slovenia and Cooperating State Canada will meet in Seville for the ESA Council at Ministerial Level Space19+ to discuss future space activities for Europe and the budget of Europe’s space agency for the coming three years. Space19+ is an opportunity to direct Europe’s ‘next generation’ ambitions in space, and address the challenges facing not only the European space sector, but also European society as a whole.
Seville, visible towards the top right of this image, is the capital of Andalusia and the fourth largest city in Spain. An inland port, it lies on the Guadalquivir River and while the original course of the river is visible snaking through the city on the right, we can see where water has also been redirected into a straighter course on the left. At over 650 km long, the Guadalquivir is one of the longest rivers in Spain, extending way beyond the frame of this image. Nevertheless, it can be seen winding its course all the way from the top right of the image, just south of the Sierra Norte mountain range, to the Gulf of Cádiz where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. On route, this major river serves as a source for irrigation – here noticeable in the top right of the image, but mainly to the south of Seville where large green agricultural fields appear in sharp contrast to the surrounding drier brown land.
The Doñana National Park lies on the right bank of the Guadalquivir River, at its estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. One of Europe's most important wetland reserves, the park is an area of marsh, shallow streams and sand dunes, and an important site for endangered and migrating birds.
Copernicus Sentinel-2 is a two-satellite mission. Each satellite carries a high-resolution camera that images Earth’s surface in 13 spectral bands. Data from Copernicus Sentinel-2 are used to monitor changes in land cover, agriculture, and coastal and inland waters.
This image, captured on 21 June 2019, is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
ESA’s flight controllers use the best software and systems to fly our missions -- but do they have the cool savvy needed to handle a wonky engine and a time-critical manoeuvre?
Set in the near future, ‘The Burn’ is a new short film that tells the story of what happens when an ESA mission control team encounters an unexpected anomaly in what should be a routine manoeuvre.
The Operations Manager, spacecraft engineers, flight dynamics experts and software and systems specialists all ‘work the problem’, fighting against time, the inexorable pull of gravity and a capricious Solar System to avoid loss of mission.
Fundamentally, without mission operations infrastructure – ground stations across the globe, flight dynamics systems, high-tech control rooms and cutting edge control systems – we could not fly the complex missions we have successfully flown now for decades.
Sometimes, you have to fail to succeed. Throughout the year, teams train for every possible eventuality, to ensure that their skills, expertise and teamwork – in combination with the best mission control systems available – bring Europe’s missions to life.
Many of the actors appearing in ‘The Burn’ are the actual engineers currently flying missions at ESA, giving an authentic glimpse into the real-time experiences of the teams who fly European exploration spacecraft today.
The Aurora, seen here dancing above Svalbard in Norway, is the most beautiful result of space weather on Earth.
The lights, most commonly found at polar regions, are totally benign, but they signify something serious happening at Earth.
Space weather describes the ever-changing conditions in space, caused by intense radiation and colossal amounts of energetic material that the Sun blasts in every direction.
When solar storms reach Earth, they intefere with our planet's magnetic field, creating geomagnetic storms with the potential to disrupt and even destroy infrastructure in space and on the ground.
This week, space weather is under the lime light as experts from across Europe meet at the European Space Weather Week in Liege, Belgium.
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano took command of a rover in the Netherlands on Monday and expertly drove it over an obstacle course to collect a rock from a sampling site– all while circling our planet at 28 800 km/h on the International Space Station.
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano will take the lead spacewalking role yet again on 22 November as he and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan go beyond the International Space Station airlock to service the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02.
Priya Patel, System Engineer, talks about her experience as a YGT working on the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna Mission (LISA).
The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission captured the plumes of smoke from the bushfires in Australia. The recent blazes triggered a ‘hazardous’ air quality warning for Sydney – the highest level on Australia’s Air Quality Index.
In this image, captured on 21 November 2019 at 00:02 GMT (11:02 local time), smoke from the Gospers Mountain bushfires, northwest of Sydney, can be seen drifting southwards. Residents with respiratory conditions were advised by authorities to stay indoors, as over 50 people have been treated owing to complications from the smoke.
According to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, as of 21:00 local time, there were over 60 bush and grass fires burning in New South Wales, of which over 20 still need to be contained. In Victoria, another 60 blazes are burning – although the exact number is unknown as new fires have been sparked by recent lightning.
Hundreds of bushfires have been burning this month in Australia, with the greatest damage seen in New South Wales and Queensland.
The latest Harris Interactive survey conducted on behalf of ESA reveals out-of-this-world aspirations for European citizens when it comes to space activities. Find out more in this short video, and look out for the full report - coming soon!
Where the two hemispheres of Mars meet, the planet is covered in broken-up terrain: a sign that slow-but-steady flows of icy material once forged their way through the landscape, carving out a fractured web of valleys, cliffs and isolated mounds of rock.
Quick reference: ESA's vision and goals for Space19+
The Cheops satellite during transfer from building S5C to the payload facility of S5A through the internal corridor, as part of launch preparations at Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guyana. The satellite is being moved on its multi-purpose trolley under the supervision of Airbus staff and with the support of the spaceport team. During all phases, a dedicated plastic bag protects the satellite and its payload are protected from contamination.
The first spacewalk to service the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) could not have gone better. Lead spacewalker ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is imaged here hitching a ride on the International Space Station’s 16-metre long robotic arm to kick off the first of four ventures to service the particle physics detector on 15 November.
While all spacewalks are a carefully planned and detailed affair, the four spacewalks for AMS are exceptionally difficult as the bus-sized dark matter detector was never designed to be maintained in space. But after three successful years of delivering ground breaking science, the decision was made to extend its lifetime.
The cooling pumps for AMS-02 need maintenance and without them it will no longer be able to collect data on the cosmic rays that are bombarding our planet. The first question spacewalk designers had to answer whether this was even possible.
The first spacewalk proved it was not only possible, but thanks to the planning and trained that began as early as 2017, Luca and his spacewalking partner Andrew Morgan could achieve more than scheduled – setting them in good stead for the next phase.
The spacewalk began, as they all do, with “prebreathing” for up to two hours. Similar to scuba divers, astronauts can suffer from the ‘bends’: quickly changing pressure can turn the nitrogen in human bodies into bubbles with serious symptoms. To avoid this, astronauts breathe pure oxygen to purge their bodies of nitrogen.
Luca and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan left the depressurised Quest airlock at 13:10 CET (12:10 GMT), with Luca grabbing the ride to AMS on the robotic arm controlled by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir while Drew ferried handrails and equipment by hand to the worksite.
The main task of this spacewalk was to remove the debris shield covering AMS, with an estimated three hours portioned for this task. Luca and Drew managed to jettison the debris shield to burn up safely in Earth’s atmosphere well ahead of schedule.
Luca and Drew also installed three handrails in the vicinity of AMS to prepare for the next spacewalks and removed zip ties on the AMS’ vertical support strut.
Amazingly, the duo were still well ahead of the six hours planned for the main task of removing the debris shield.
When time permits, mission control give spacewalkers some “get ahead” tasks. Although there were no get-ahead tasks planned for this spacewalk the duo was so far ahead of schedule that mission control agreed they continue work originally planned for the second AMS spacewalk. Luca removed the screws from a carbon-fibre cover under the insulation and passed the cover to Drew to jettison once again.
The pair cleaned up, took some photos of their killer views, gathered tools, and made their way back to the airlock, clocking in 6 hours and 39 minutes for this promising start to AMS maintenance.
The next spacewalk is scheduled for 22 November. Watch the spacewalk via ESA Web TV.
Got questions about AMS? Post them using the hashtag #SpacewalkForAMS on Twitter and follow the hashtag for the latest.
A recent ‘deep learning’ algorithm – despite having no innate knowledge of solar physics – could provide more accurate predictions of how the Sun affects our planet than current models based on scientific understanding.
Data from ESA’s Cluster mission has provided a recording of the eerie ‘song’ that Earth sings when it is hit by a solar storm.