Category Archives: ESA

Lunar Pox


Great title from ESA for this image of the Lunar north pole from the SMART-1 spacecraft.  It’s been a long time since I posted a SMART-1 image!

ESA’s description (included below) talks a lot about the lighting.  The pattern of the craters sort of looks like a spiral to me and that might be the lighting too.

Image: ESA/SPACE-X (Space Exploration Institute). Acknowledgments: J. Manuel Fonseca, M. Costa & A. Mora (UNINOVA); B. Grieger & M. Almeida (ESA)


ESA’s caption:The pockmarked landscape captured in this image from ESA’s SMART-1 mission is the surface of our Moon. Some of the many craters scattered across the lunar surface are clearly visible, records of the many impacts that have plagued it.

At the very centre of this image is the lunar north pole, captured in detail during ESA’s mission. The image shows the characteristic craters of the Moon, present in all shapes and sizes. The largest in view is Rozhdestvenskiy, sandwiched between Hermite to the northeast and Plaskett to the southwest.

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ESA Honors Team Members


Very nice.  The original caption (below) included a close up of the feature.  You can see it by clicking the image above.

The caption:

Scientists from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta team have honored two late team members by naming comet features after them. The comet is 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where the mission successfully landed a probe.

One of the features is shown here in these Rosetta images, with the picture on the right being a close-up view. The “C. Alexander Gate” is found on the comet’s smaller lobe, and is dedicated to Claudia Alexander, the U.S. project scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who passed away in July of this year.

Image credit : ESA’s comet viewer

Rosetta is a European Space Agency mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center, Cologne; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen; French National Space Agency, Paris; and the Italian Space Agency, Rome. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the U.S. participation in the Rosetta mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

DSA-1 in 3D


Grab those 3D glasses and have a look at this picture from ESA of the Deep Space Network Antenna (DSA 1) with credit to  D. O’Donnell/ESA – CC BY-SA 3.0.

ESA has a large version of this image, see it here.

A visit to DSN Now is a good way to find out which spacecraft are communicating.

From ESA

This 3D anaglyph image, taken on 3 August 2015, shows ESA’s 35 m-diameter deep-space tracking dish at New Norcia, Western Australia, at night. It can be viewed using stereoscopic glasses with red–blue filters.

This Deep Space Antenna, DSA-1, regularly communicates with distant spacecraft such as Mars Express, Rosetta and Gaia. In the near future, it will also work with BepiColombo at Mercury, LISA Pathfinder and ExoMars.

In 2014, it beamed commands and received data from Rosetta, voyaging 800 million km away. On 12 November 2014, it received data relayed by Rosetta as DLR’s Philae craft landed on its target comet.

Despite the moveable structure weighing 580 tonnes, engineers can point it accurately at 1 degree per second in the horizontal and vertical axes.

On 3 August, the dish was illuminated for that evening’s photography – it usually operates in the dark to reduce power usage and avoid light pollution.

In 2015, ESA’s Estrack ground station network celebrates 40 years of European tracking


Mogensen is Home


ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen in a recovery helicopter shortly after landing, here with ESA Flight Surgeon Ulrich Straube.

Andreas Mogensen, Soyuz spacecraft commander Gennady Padalka and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov landed 12 September 2015 at 00:51 GMT (02:51 CEST) in the steppe of Kazakhstan, marking the end of their missions to the International Space Station.

Andreas became Denmark’s first astronaut when he left our planet on 2 September on his 10-day iriss mission. The trio undocked from the orbiting complex on 11 September at 21:29 GMT (23:29 CEST) in an older Soyuz spacecraft, leaving the new vessel they arrived in for the Station crew.

ESA used the mission to test new technologies and conduct a series of scientific experiments.

Image and caption ESA

Three Eclipses in One Day

ESA’s Proba-2 used the SWAP imager to record three partial solar eclipses and one “almost” eclipse where the moon passed close to the edge of the sun (39 secs in on the lower left).

The SWAP images “sees” in the extreme ultraviolet wavelengths which is nice for capturing the turbulent surface of the Sun and its swirling corona.



Gotta love those CubeSats!

Danish ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen introduces the AAUSAT5 CubeSat, explaining who constructed it and what its mission objectives are. AAUSAT5, a CubeSat entirely built by a university team with ESA’s support.


Remote Rover Control

I recently posted a video about the Interact rover, more specifically the ESA Interact Centaur rover and how it was going to be controlled by ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen. The Interact Centaur is designed to be able to have tactile ability, touch and heft.

Could the rover be controlled from an orbiting spacecraft with a delicate enough touch to put say a metal peg 4 cm into a hole with only one sixth of millimeter clearance to make an electrical connection?

Here’s the answer:

Interact Centaur


This is big! On 07 September ESA astronaut Andreas Mogenson will control the ESA Interact Centaur rover.

Mogenson was one of the three launched into space on the Soyuz yesterday.

The Interact rover is back here on Earth and you might wonder why a rover here on Earth is being controlled by an ISS crew member. This is no ordinary rover, it has haptic feedback, meaning that operators will gain the sense of feel and even the heft of an object.

Imagine what this could mean!

The idea is for astronauts aboard a spacecraft orbiting Mars to have that kind of control over a rover on the surface.

I bet the technology will be used before a manned Mars mission, this has the potential to be a game changer in robotic exploration.

Image: ESA

Let’s Fly Over Atlantis Chaos

Thanks to the ESA Mars Express we can do that!

ESA’s description:
The video showcases a myriad of features that reflect a rich geological history. The tour takes in rugged cliffs and impact craters, alongside parts of ancient shallow, eroded basins. See smooth plains scarred with wrinkled ridges, scarps and fracture lines that point to influence from tectonic activity. Marvel at ‘chaotic’ terrain – hundreds of small peaks and flat-topped hills that are thought to result from the slow erosion of a once-continuous solid plateau. This entire region may once have played host to vast volumes of water – look out for the evidence in the form of channels carved into steep-sided walls.

Copyright ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGA)