A video of the separation of the Sentinel-1A from the Fregat putting it into orbit. Spectacular video.
The launch, if you didn’t see it was equally spectacular, the video is one of the best ground based recordings of an ascent into space around. Have a look while you’re here.
Mission: Copernicus – Sentinel 1
Launch Date: 03 April 2014
Launch Time: 21:02 UTC
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana
Watch the launch LIVE at ESA LIve – Streaming starts at 20:45 UTC.
The Sentinel 1A satellite is just the first in an ambitious program by ESA called Copernicus.
There is a nice video out that shows what we might expect to see during the approach and encounter with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
As the video showed the comet is just now becoming visible and in fact Rosetta did get a couple of pictures of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta is about 5 million km / 3.1 million miles from the comet and this image comes from 60-300 second exposures. Nice and steady!
Rosetta’s first sighting of its target in 2014 – narrow angle view Image and caption: ESA
The camera is working great! I especially like the globular cluster! It is M107.
See more at the Rosetta site.
From ESA’s Space in Images this amazing Hubble image of the Monkey Head Nebula (in Orion) – the link has full-res versions of the image.
Hubble was launched on 24 April 1990, coming up on 24 years. The last servicing mission to Hubble was in 2009 which hopefully will extend the life of Hubble until 2021. I should note the expected life of Hubble after the servicing is published to be 2014 to 2021 – hopefully closer to the latter.
The James Webb Telescope is expected to launch in 2018.
About the image (from ESA):
Each year the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope releases a brand new image to celebrate its birthday. This year, the subject of its 24th celebratory snap is part of the Monkey Head Nebula, last viewed by Hubble in 2001, creating a stunning image released in 2011.
Otherwise known as NGC 2174, this cloud of gas and dust lies about 6400 light-years away in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). Nebulas like this one are popular targets for Hubble – their colourful plumes of gas and fiery bright stars create ethereally beautiful pictures, such as the telescope’s 22nd and 23rd anniversary images of the Tarantula and Horsehead nebulas.
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as observed on Februaray 28th, 2014, with the Very Large Telescope.
Left: In order to make the comet visible, the scientists superposed several exposures. The images were shifted to compensate for the comet’s motion. The stars appear as broadly smudged lines.
Right: Subtracting the starry backgrouns reveals the comet.
Caption and Image © MPS/ESO
We can now see Rosetta’s goal, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko thanks to researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and the European Southern Observatory. The comet disappeared behind the sun last October and it is just now out of the glare enough to be seen.
They took the image above with ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Actually the image is several exposures stacked together. Think of it is adding all the images together to bring out the features. 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is small, around 3 x 5 km and it is about 740 million km / 460 million miles so it is very faint.
The new image suggests that 67P is beginning to emit gas and dust at a relatively large distance from the Sun – Colin Snodgrass from the MPS
The comet will become more visible to researchers as it gets closer.
Read more at the Max Planck Institute.
I first saw this and thought Hubble caught a comet breaking up, turns out it isn’t it’s an asteroid! Not to mention another Hubble first. The four largest fragments are as much as 200 meters in diameter.
“This is a rock. Seeing it fall apart before our eyes is pretty amazing,” said David Jewitt of UCLA, USA, who led the astronomical forensics investigation.
Get the story at ESA’s Hubble page.
ESA’s Gaia satellite as seen with the Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Credit: ESO / ESA
The Gaia satellite is 1.5 million km away and is orbiting a spot in space known as L2. The spot, L2 is a Lagrange point, think of it as a gravity balance point and makes a nice parking spot. ESA has a more in depth explanation of Lagrange points..
ESA can actually keep tabs on Gaia visually. I think this is just amazing. Using the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile Gaia actually can be seen. It’s a very small satellite very far away, over a million times fainter than can be see with the human eye.
From the ESA caption:
To measure Gaia’s position in the sky, a network of small and medium telescopes are monitoring the spacecraft on a daily basis. This information is being fed into the orbit reconstruction being performed at ESA’s Space Operations Centre, yielding an accuracy of 150 m on Gaia’s position and of 2.5 mm/s on its motion.
These two images, taken about 6.5 minutes apart on 23 January, are the result of a close collaboration between ESA and the European Southern Observatory to observe Gaia.
Read the full ESA caption here.
A calibration image from Gaia. Copyright ESA/DPAC/Airbus DS
Testing on the Gaia spacecraft is apparently going nicely if this image of NGC 1818 is any indication.
About the image from ESA:
A Gaia test image of the young star cluster NGC1818 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, taken as part of calibration and testing before the science phase of the mission begins. The field-of-view is 212 x 212 arcseconds and the image is approximately oriented with north up and east left. The integration time of the image was 2.85 seconds and the image covers an area less than 1% of the full Gaia field of view.
The latest from ESA Euronews regarding Rosetta.
This video is available many languages at the ESA YouTube site.
Today is an unofficial holiday in the States with the NFL Super Bowl.
I am hoping for a Bronco victory. However, I would not be too disappointed to see the Seahawks either as their kicker played college football just up the road.
67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko from the ESO on 05 Oct 2013. ESO / C. Snodgrass (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany)
Here is an image of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko taken on 05 Oct 2013. This is the comet ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft is destined to orbit. As far as I know this is the latest image of the comet.
The image was taken by the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile. We can see the comet with and without the background of stars.
The comet was about 500,000 km from Earth and heading behind the Sun from our perspective in its six and a half year orbit at the time. If you have about 15 minutes or so, I’d like to encourage you to visit ESA’s “Where is Rosetta“. This was fantastic look at Rosetta’s journey and gives a nice perspective into how much planning goes into a mission like this.
Partial screen shot showing the positions of Rosetta and 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko from the “Where is Rosetta” page on the ESA site.
If you watch it from the begining, you will notice around late 2010 or early 2011 both the comet and Rosetta go “off screen”, click the “reset view” to zoom out to see it. I would suggest not hitting that link until then though as early on the orbits by Rosetta are pretty interesting as far as how the mission was set up to put the spacecaft in position to chase down Churyumov–Gerasimenko — it loses its flair zoomed out.
You can also move the slider along the time line if you are in a hurry.