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Flying through an aurora, like going through a giant neon sign

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 (previously).
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 13, 2014 - 16 comments

Psst, Venus. What's up with those holes in your atmosphere?

Venus Express, ESA's first spacecraft to the planet, has been having a good ol' time skimming the surface at an altitude of 81 miles , finding rainbows and investigating those holes in the planet's atmosphere.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 12, 2014 - 15 comments

Rendezvous with a comet

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]
posted by nubs on Aug 6, 2014 - 52 comments

One small alarm for a spacecraft, one giant mission for mankind

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]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 21, 2014 - 26 comments

Just another day at the office...

A few weeks ago, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano (@astro_luca) 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.
posted by Asparagirl on Aug 21, 2013 - 49 comments

Mo’ honey, mo’ problems

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]
posted by Mezentian on Feb 18, 2013 - 59 comments

Damn fine year for outer space achievements and photos

The year in space, according to NASA and the ESA, along with the best space photos of 2012.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 31, 2012 - 8 comments

Journey ends

Mars-500, a simulated 520-day mission to Mars (previously and previously), will be completed today at 11:00 CET. Watch live
posted by baueri on Nov 4, 2011 - 26 comments

And a great big blue sky below

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]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 7, 2011 - 34 comments

"We know you; you'll never be just a speck of light again."

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]
posted by IvoShandor on Jul 13, 2010 - 21 comments

Lame Duck v. Bald Eagles

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.
posted by digaman on Aug 11, 2008 - 50 comments

New Hi-Res Mars Pix

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.
posted by tits mcgee on Jul 16, 2008 - 14 comments

Evidence of water ice on mars.

NASA Phoenix probe finds evidence of frozen water on Mars
posted by elpapacito on Jun 19, 2008 - 94 comments

"This listing will not stop global climate change"

I can’t express how extremely disappointed I am that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act," Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a statement issued today. [more inside]
posted by salvia on May 14, 2008 - 61 comments

Mars in Pictures

The evolution of Mars imaging from orbit: Mariner 4 (1964), Mariner 6 and Mariner 7 (both 1969), Mariner 9 (1971) (all NASA), Mars 5 (1973) (USSR), Viking 1 (1975), Viking 2 (1976), Mars Global Surveyor (1996), Mars Odyssey (2001) (NASA), Mars Express (2003) (ESA), up to this spy-quality shot of an active avalanche taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005).
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Mar 5, 2008 - 11 comments

Video of a Tour around STS-120/ISS

A tour around Discovery STS-120 and the International Space Station with Paolo Nespoli and Dr. Scott Parazynski. Tomorrow, Parazynski will be perched at the end of a robot arm and sensor boom assembly, stitching up a damaged solar array in what might be one of the riskiest EVAs since Skylab 2.
posted by brownpau on Nov 2, 2007 - 29 comments

Suburban Moscow only seems like outer space

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]
posted by dkg on Sep 6, 2007 - 33 comments

Staring at the sun

Staring at the sun. YouTube video of solar flares, made from images captured by the SOHO satellite. Yes, there is more.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 16, 2007 - 25 comments

Envisat images

The Envisat 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.
posted by Catfry on Mar 1, 2007 - 12 comments

Rosetta Mars Flyby Pics

ESA's Rosetta probe just flew by Mars en route to a deep space rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. During the 200 km close flyby, the Rosetta's Philae Lander camera got this lovely view of the craft's solar panel backdropped by the Martian arc, plus an animation of the moon Phobos' shadow on the Martian surface, and more lovely Mars imagery.
posted by brownpau on Feb 27, 2007 - 14 comments

Why the long face?

Mars Express finally photographs the "face on Mars". Will these new pictures finally end the artifact theory?
posted by oh pollo! on Sep 21, 2006 - 30 comments

Get your telescopes out!

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!
posted by quin on Sep 2, 2006 - 17 comments

Happy Landings, SMART-1

Crash. Tiny SMART-1, 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.
posted by brownpau on Apr 24, 2006 - 4 comments

Killing Tatanka ... Bufflo ...

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.
posted by Wulfgar! on Nov 16, 2005 - 64 comments

Yellowstone Grizzlies To Be Delisted?

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.
posted by Wulfgar! on Nov 15, 2005 - 27 comments

Road trip to venus!

Road trip to venus!

The Venus Express was launched 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.

Exploration of Venus 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, many, 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.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 13, 2005 - 19 comments

Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan

Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn A collaboration between 17 nations (3 space agencies). The atmosphere shows wavelike cloud structures, Saturn's rings display Waves and Small Particles. First image of a small moon orbiting within the Keeler gap.
Previous Missions, 2005 tour dates.
posted by Lanark on May 24, 2005 - 11 comments

Life suspected, WMDs probable

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?
posted by borkingchikapa on Feb 21, 2005 - 30 comments

European Space Agency

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.
posted by Pretty_Generic on Jan 21, 2005 - 28 comments

You spin me right round baby, right round...

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.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian on Dec 23, 2004 - 3 comments

Look! Up in the sky!

The ESA 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.
posted by Vidiot on Nov 17, 2004 - 7 comments

Moon is Noah's Ark

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.
posted by stbalbach on Sep 8, 2004 - 8 comments

Art goes to Mars.

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.
posted by condour75 on Nov 30, 2002 - 12 comments

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