European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst captured this photograph
from the International Space Station and tweeted "Words can't describe how it feels flying through an #aurora. I wouldn't even know where to begin...
" Not many can share his experience, but photographer Paul Williams captured an aurora while on a flight from London to New York
(stills on Flickr
). NASA's Science News has an article on Flying Through a Geomagnetic Storm
, with information on how auroras are formed, and a bit more on what it's like to fly through them, with an accompanying video
Today at approximately 08:45am GMT
, the Rosetta spacecraft
entered orbit of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko after a 10 year journey. Now in orbit 100km above the surface, Rosetta is already sending back amazing images
of a rocky, rough rubber duck
shaped comet. [more inside]
The Rosetta spacecraft just woke up
after a 32 month nap, some 500 million miles from Earth (interactive location tool
) in preparation for its encounter with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
. [more inside]
A few weeks ago, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano
) almost drowned during a spacewalk when his helmet started uncontrollably filling with water, possibly from a leaky spacesuit cooling system
. (See previous MeFi discussion
on the incident.) A week later, his fellow ISS astronaut Chris Cassidy posted two videos
online showing the actual spacesuit and using it to illustrate the problem. All future US and European spacewalks have been halted
while the incident is being investigated, although the Russian ones are continuing
, as they use different suits. Yesterday, Luca published a scary new entry on his in-orbit blog
, where he not only gave all the horror-movie details, but also revealed that he nearly chose to depressurize his suit
outside the ISS in order to survive.
The world of honey trading is a murky one, riddled with smuggling and fakery
. But honey detectives
are on the case! And they have a new, powerful weapon: a laser tool
designed by the European Space Agency
to measure carbon on Mars that has been re-purposed to detect fake honey. (Via
) [more inside]
, a simulated 520-day mission to Mars (previously
), will be completed today at 11:00 CET. Watch live
32 images of the earth from the blackness of space
, many with spacewalking astronauts in the foreground, presented in a Big Picture style. (via
) [more inside]
The European Space Agency's Rosetta
craft has returned stunning images
of the asteroid 21 Lutetia
, including this one
which couples Lutetia with a member of our planetary family. [more inside]
Cross another item off of President Bush's to-do list
before he leaves the White House: hobbling the Endangered Species Act
and allowing federal agencies to gauge the environmental impact of their projects for themselves. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said
the changes were needed to ensure that the ESA would not be used as a "back door"
to regulate greenhouse gases.
The European Space Agency's Mars Express Probe has sent back some beautiful new high-resolution images
of the Echus Chasma. More images and information can be found here
Russians are planning a trip to Mars,
but first they want to better understand the psychological and practical issues involved with long, isolated human travel. So the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems
will be locking volunteers into a small, closed system for ~500 days. The ESA is collaborating on the so-called Mars500 project
. There is a current call out for volunteers
which is open until the end of this month. [more inside]
Staring at the sun.
YouTube video of solar flares, made from images captured by the SOHO satellite
. Yes, there is more
ENVIronmental SATellite is on its fifth year in orbit. To celebrate, ESA has assembled four galleries with selected images from the 500 tearabytes of data that has been collected to date.
The pictures are of very different types, covering a wide variety of information, for example clorophyll concentration, global wave height, and an interferogram of the Bam earthquake.
I personally think the ‘maximum water vapour mean’, in the atmosphere gallery is beautiful.
Unfortunately the galleries are in flash so you cannot save the pics directly.
finally photographs the "face on Mars"
Will these new pictures finally end the artifact
On September 2nd at 10:41 p.m. PDT the ESA's Smart-1
will crash into the moon
. While no one is certain how bright the impact will be, some believe it may be visible to amateur astronomers. We've discussed this before
, but tonight's the night!
, ESA's first lunar probe (also a compact spacecraft technology test bed), has been in lunar orbit since November 2004
. Following the success of its primary
and secondary missions
, ESA now plans to crash SMART-1 into the moon
, with a hard landing on the near side which may be visible from Earth. More stuff on ESA's little lunar trooper: SMART-1 lunar imagery
, SMART-1 NASA Master Catalog entry
, Planetary Society's SMART-1 category
, and SMART-1 on Wikipedia
The hunting of American Bison
got a renewal today. The first hunt of the buffalo, in 15 years, began with a Belgrade, MT, boy killing a bull with 4 shots
, shortly after the hunt began. The 15 year hiatus on hunting Bison in Montana was contentious, if not downright nasty
, but that's over now. Montana has allowed Bison hunting outside Yellowstone park, and it's been a media show
. Of course, this really pisses some folks off
, to which hunters claim, "It's like the hunter's become the hunted
". The mountain west of the US has become a battle ground of flowing ideas
, with man against nature, and man against man. The Endangered Species Act, the very thing that has lead us to this event, is under siege
. People begin to notice when critters die.
Welcome to Bison Hunt, 101
The US Fed wants the Yellowstone Grizzly Bears taken off the list of threatened species
. (No, not those Grizzlies
, heh.) Through very serious recovery efforts
the Grizzly bear population in the area around Yellowstone National Park is being considered "recovered", such that they can be removed from the protection of the endangered species act. Some fear that this move doesn't address the issue of where the bears actually live
, though it needs to be pointed out that hunting and killing bears in the Park is prohibited. Some are celebrating this as a great move
by the DoI. Some of America's friends overseas
don't appear to be any too happy about this. The proposal only covers those bears in and around Yellowstone, but the Grizzly recovery in other areas remains slowed by illegal killing
, and stupidity
. Can we call this a success for the Endangered Species Act
? Or is the ESA itself
endangered? Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without the headcase who blames environmentalists for keeping him from baiting the bears
Road trip to venus!
The Venus Express
on Nov. 9th, 2005 from Baikonur
, the historic spaceport in Kazakhstan
. It is the first Venus probe sent by the ESA
, and you can follow it's progress
on the six month journey to the planet.
begin in 1962 with Mariner 2
, the first space probe to fly by another planet and other flights, including the Russian Venera 7
, which was the first probe to land on another planet. The Soviets took quite an interest in Venus and dominated the exploration of the planet
through the '70s and '80s. A lot of the images recorded by those early craft have been reprocessed with modern technology
In the early '90s the Magellan
spacecraft spent several years mapping the surface of Venus
, providing us many
images and 3D maps
of the planet
As for Venus Express
, it's goal is to spend two years making detailed studys of the planet's clouds and atmosphere
ESA scientists announced that a giant sea is hidden under the Martian surface.
With discoveries like this
and weird photos like this
, how long can it be before we find conclusive proof of extraterrestrial life?
Instead of liquid water, Titan
has liquid methane. Instead of silicate rocks, Titan has frozen water ice. Instead of dirt, Titan has hydrocarbon particles settling out of the atmosphere, and instead of lava, Titanian volcanoes spew very cold ice.
Mars Express Image Browser
The European Space Agency's Mars Express site has been linked before
, but this neat little flash globe lets you rotate the planet yourself and select various viewpoints for more detailed pictures of the surface. Some of the pictures are stunning
, others just don't look real
tells you how to see the International Space Station
. Enter your location, and they'll give you times, tell you which direction to look, and provide a star map. And after you've seen it (and taken a picture of it), you can log it as a geocache find
The Moon should become a DNA Noah's Ark
for repopulating the Earth in case of catastrophe, suggests the chief scientist Bernard H. Foing
of the ESA
's Research and Scientific Support Department
. A more earthly frozen ark
is already under construction.
Art goes to Mars.
This may be the very first art that our species sends into space, unless you count the little naked folks on the Voyager plaque, or broadcast television. In a somewhat bold move, they've chosen shock artist putter-of-sharks-in-formaldehyde Damien Hirst
. Is it me, or would the chosen painting be much dorkier if this were NASA rather than the European Space Agency? Like a duck or something.