Jul 052017

A huge iceberg, one of the largest ever seen, clings to Antarctica by only a 5-kilometer icy expanse, said researchers at the European Space Agency, who have been studying for a while the ice block that is expected to break away soon.


Large iceberg floating

Icebergs are discharged continuously from Antarctica, but this one, with an area of ​​6,000 square kilometers, is particularly large and needs to be monitored to avoid endangering maritime traffic, explains ESA.

This ice chunk is part of “Larsen C” – the fourth largest ice shelf in Antarctica -, which holds icebergs that could make water levels rise 10 cm if they reach the ocean.

Using information from the CryoSat satellite, “we determined the height of the ice above the ocean and we calculated that the final iceberg would be about 190 meters thick and will contain about 1,155 cubic meters of ice,” said Noel Gourmelen of the University of Edinburgh. It is believed that the depth below sea level could reach 210 meters.

May 052015

Astronauts on board ISS tasted authentic coffee for first time ever! A cup of espresso coffee prepared in zero-gravity conditions was drunk in cosmos for the first time ever on Sunday when Italian Samantha Cristoforetti inaugurated the event on board the International Space Station (ISS) by, according to a NASA report.


ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti tried first espresso aboard ISS

“”Coffee: the finest organic suspension ever devised.” Fresh espresso in the new Zero-G cup! To boldly brew…” wrote the astronaut on her Twitter page, adding a picture of the historical moment when she sipped the delicious drink from a “Zero-G” cup.

Earlier, the astronauts could enjoy instant coffee in a lyophilized form, but the situation changed after the ISS has been fitted, a few days ago, with the first coffee machine that works in zero gravity conditions.

Called ISSPresso, this machine was developed by the Italian company that produces Lavazza coffe, in collaboration with the engineering firm Argotec and the Italian Space Agency. The coffee machine has been fixed with elastic cords on the inner wall of one of the modules of the ISS.

The machine which uses the coffee capsules, generates a temperature of 75 degrees Celsius and provides the same water pressure as the common machines do on Earth. No details are known about the functionality of the device, or the costs of this project, whose copyrights are held by companies involved in the design and implementation.

ISSPresso manufacturers hope now that the machine could be used by ISS members in optimal conditions for several years.

Nov 132014

A European robot probe named Philae made a remarkable landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) on Wednesday, achieving thus a record in the space history, announced the European Space Agency ESA. Philae is not tightly anchored to the comet as the harpoons failed to work but engineers at the European Space Agency (ESA) are now trying to reactivate them to prevent spacecraft’s detachment (scroll for video). After leaving the mothership Rosetta and touching down, Philae may have lifted off surface before returning to it, ESA scientists said at a press conference.

Comet landing Philae probe Rosetta mission

Photo of Comet 67P taken by Philae probe during final approach (Credit: ESA)

“So maybe we didn’t land once — we landed twice,” Philae lander manager Stephan Ulamec said. “Did we land in a soft sand box or is there something else happening? We don’t fully understand what happened.”
After getting on the surface, the robot tweeted: “Touchdown! My new address: 67P!” Later, it tweeted again: “I’m on the surface but my harpoons did not fire.”

“We have to assess the situation. I do not know exactly where and how Philae landed. In a few hours, we will collect more data ,” added Ulamec.

The first landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was reported at 17:03 CET (16:03 GMT).

Philae – first photo. The first picture taken by Philae while descending to the comet was published by ESA. The image was snapped by robot’s ROLIS instrument about 3 km above the surface of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
Video: ESA and Rosetta team announce Philae first landing on comet 67P/C-G

Rosetta mission
The spaceship is named after the Rosetta Stone, an inscribed piece of volcanic rock found in Egypt in 1799 that that allowed scientists to decipher hieroglyphics and thus understand the ancient Egyptian culture, ESA said. The lander is named after an island in the Nile River where an obelisk was found that helped decipher the Rosetta Stone, ESA said.

“Our ambitious Rosetta mission has secured a place in the history books: not only is it the first to rendezvous with and orbit a comet, but it is now also the first to deliver a lander to a comet’s surface,” Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s director general, said in an article posted on the ESA website.
Many people, and not just the ones who work for ESA, are excited about what kind of information Philae will deliver.

Comet 67P/C-G shown by Philae image during descent on 12 November 2014 at 14:38:41 UT, from a distance of approximately 3 km from the surface. The landing site is imaged with a resolution of about 3m per pixel. (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR)

Comet 67P/C-G shown by Philae image during descent on 12 November 2014 at 14:38:41 UT, from a distance of approximately 3 km from the surface. The landing site is imaged with a resolution of about 3m per pixel. (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR)

“Rosetta is trying to answer the very big questions about the history of our Solar System,” Matt Taylor, ESA Rosetta project scientist, said in the article on the ESA website. “What were the conditions like at its infancy and how did it evolve? What role did comets play in this evolution? How do comets work?”
And science fiction writer Alastair Reynolds said: “This is science fiction made real in terms of the achievement of the mission itself, but Rosetta is also taking us a step closer to answering science fiction’s grandest question of all: Are we alone?”

Rosetta took off from Earth 10 years ago carrying Philae and traveled 6.4 billion miles before arriving in early August at the comet.

The Philae lander separated from the mother ship Rosetta around 3:30 a.m. ET Wednesday and landed on the comet seven hours later.

Philae lander
Travelled 6.4 billion km (four billion miles) to reach the comet
Journey took 10 years
Planning for the journey began 25 years ago
Comet 67P
More than four billion years old
Mass of 10 billion tonnes
Hurtling through space at 18km/s (40,000mph)
Shaped like a rubber duck.

Video highlights: Rosetta comet landing mission up to Philae’s split from main craft

Oct 262013

European Planck Space Observatory was shut down after a 4 and a half years mission during which it analyzed the cosmic background radiation, -the remnant of the famous Big Bang (explosion that gave birth to the universe)-, and studied the evolution of stars and galaxies throughout the history of the universe, informs European Space Agency (ESA) in a press release.

Universe CMB Planck telescope

Universe cosmic microwave background as recorded by Planck satellite (ESA/Planck Collaboration)

Scientists from the mission operation center in Darmstadt (Germany) sent the last command to the Planck satellite Wednesday afternoon, thus marking the end of the operations carried out by the ESA’s “cosmic time machine”.

Planck telescope was launched in May 2009 bearing the role of studying Big Bang’s remnant cosmic microwave background (CMB). CMB holds a picture of the universe as it was just 380,000 years after the Big Bang, and provides details of the initial conditions that shaped the universe in the form that it is today.

The mission began approaching its end in August when Planck spacecraft was taken off its operative orbit around the Lagrange point 2 (L2 ) – the area where Earth’s gravitational pull is felt approximately equal to that of the Sun – and placed on a more distant orbit around the Sun. In recent weeks, the telescope has been prepared for a permanent hibernation parking with shutdown activities using the last fuel reserves. The last step was to stop the transmitter.

“With much sadness we announce the last operation of the Planck space telescope, but at the same time, we celebrate a very successful mission,” said the mission operations manager Steve Foley at ESA’s European Space Operations Center (ESOC).

The last command was sent to the Planck telescope on Wednesday 23 October 2013 at 12:10:27 GMT.

ESA Member States had come up with key technologies such as a sophisticated cooling system that allowed the telescope to operate at temperatures near absolute zero, with only a tenth of a degree higher than -273.15 degrees Celsius, so the telescope sensors could detect without contamination the heat from some of the coldest parts of the universe.

Jan 222013

Spectacular images show that Mars once had abundant water!!!

Reull Vallis: ESA’s Mars Express spaceprobe revealed stunning "river-like structure" proving that one water flowed on Mars

Reull Vallis: ESA’s Mars Express spaceprobe revealed stunning “river-like structure” proving that one water flowed on Mars

European Space Agency (ESA) has released a series of stunning photographs depicting the dry print of a huge stream that once meandered on Mars.

The images, taken by ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, show Reull Vallis, a structure that resembles a dried up bed of a large river. Scientists believe that would have formed due to the existence of flowing water on Mars.

Waters had carved a channel with steep banks in the area called Promethei Terra. The canal then heads to Hellas Basin.

The formation extends over a length of 1,500 km and along it there can be seen vestiges of tributaries of the former river. In some ways, the channel is 7 kilometer wide and 300 meter deep.

Researchers say that Mars landscape’s details are reminiscent of morphology of formations found on Earth in areas affected by glaciation. For example, one could observe craters filled with sediment, and featuring circular shape and stepped walls.

A channel with a width of 7 km and a depth of 300 meter is thought to have been formed by water that once ran on Mars surface

A channel with a width of 7 km and a depth of 300 meter is thought to have been formed by water that once ran on Mars surface

Experts believe that such formations would have formed long time ago when water or ice had higher levels, before evaporating or subliming (sublimation = transformation of a solid, such as ice, directly into vapor/steam without first melting), gradually, in different periods of the history of the planet.

It is considered that the structures would have taken shape, on the one hand, because of the digging process of the substrate carried out by the flowing water during a period called hesperiene (which ended 3.5 to 1.8 billion years ago) and subsequent erosion caused by rocks debris and ice during a period called the Amazon – which continues today – because of the glaciers flow.

The images suggest that the region had a long and troubled geological history, indicating the existence of some interesting features similar to regions and geological phenomena on Earth.

Jul 292012

New images appear to shatter decades of speculation!!! Photos published by NASA show that the humans stepped on the lunar surface during several Apollo missions (scroll down for photos and videos).

Over time, there were dozens speculations related to the astronauts space mission on the moon. Some people have vehemently denied that man had reached Earth’s natural satellite. But now, NASA experts have presented images that normally should dispel such theories.

NASA has just released images featuring the traces left by the Apollo 17 crew members on Moon’s surface. In the pictures taken over by universetoday you can see the flags placed by the astronauts on various missions after they got off the spacecrafts.

Mark Robinson, a senior inspector of the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Camera, said he was surprised to see that these flags still exist, intact, in spite of the high temperatures and radiation.

Initially, Robinson had claimed that while the flag poles are possibly still standing, he didn’t believe the flags themselves resisted the tough radiation of the Moon surface environment. But NASA researcher was apparently wrong according to the new images and video which proved that at some of the landing sites – Apollo 12, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17 – the flags are still intact as their shadows are clearly seen on the lunar surface.

U.S. Apollo space program, which aimed at manned lunar exploration, took place from 1961 to 1972.

This photo shows the flag left near the Apollo 16 landing site with the spacecraft slewed 15° towards the Sun; flag's shadow is spotted by LROC. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

LROC captured image revealing the lit side of the still standing U.S flag located at the Apollo 17 landing spot. Photo: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

Video: Apollo 12 landing site

Video: Lunar lander mission for Moon Exploration (European Space Agency ESA)