Week In Images

Lunar agenda
This image of the Moon was taken by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from the International Space Station during his Horizons mission. But he’s not the only one to be eyeing the Moon these days.

From 3 to 5 July, ESA is hosting a workshop on lunar exploration at its technical heart in the Netherlands. Building on ESA’s commitment to sustainable exploration, the workshop brings space experts and industry together to talk lunar resources and how to use them to return humanity to the Moon and farther afield.

For humans to live and work on the Moon and beyond, we need oxygen and water for life support as well as fuel and materials to build habitats and equipment. Launching these bulky consumables would cost the kind of money and energy that makes human exploration of the Solar System unsustainable.

Instead, ESA is looking into the capabilities that would allow humans to harness lunar resources for humanity’s sustainable return to the Moon. The approach is known as In-Situ Resource Utilisation. Put simply, it means extracting and processing resources on site to make useful products and services.

Last year, service providers with like-minded ideas were invited to take place in a one-year study exploring what a collaborative and commercially viable mission to the Moon would look like.

During this week’s workshop ESA is continuing this discussion with experts, industry officials, and potential new partners by exploring the technological readiness, commercial viability, legal status, and international context for lunar resource use.

In the meantime, the humans closest to our rocky satellite - astronauts on the International Space Station - are testing technologies such as remotely operating robots to take us a step closer to our next outpost in space.

Learn more about ESA’s vision for the next decade of space exploration here and dive into Alexander’s Moon gazing during Horizon’s mission in this blog post.
Reykjavik, Iceland
The Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite takes us over the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. As a volcanic island famous for its volcanoes, glaciers, lakes, lava and hot springs, Iceland attracts tourists all year round with its vast array of natural wonders.

Click on the box in the lower-right corner to view this image at its full 10 m resolution directly in your browser.

This true colour image shows us the small city of Reykjavik, home to around 120 000 people, and seen in the lower central part of the image. The port town of Akranes, 20 km north of the capital, is also shown in grey in the centre of the image. In between the two lies Mount Esja, standing just over 900 m tall, and providing a dramatic backdrop to the capital.

In the upper left part of the image, ’kettle holes’ are visible as small dark green dots scattered across the reddish brown area. Kettle holes are formed when blocks of ice break away from glaciers and then become buried in outwash. When these buried blocks of glacier ice melt away they leave behind holes, which become filled with water and turn into kettle hole lakes. They are often found in areas that were covered in ice during the last ice age, which ended around 12 000 years ago. Kettle holes are common in Michigan in the United States, as well as in parts of Germany, Austria and the UK.

The Sentinel-2 mission is tasked with monitoring our changing lands. Designed specifically to monitor vegetation, it can also detect differences in sparsely vegetated areas, as well as the mineral composition of soil, as found in Iceland.

This image, which was captured on 1 November 2017, is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
European Cansat Competition 2018 - group photo
This past week, students from 18 different ESA Member or Associate states gathered in the Azores archipelago, Portugal to take part in the 8th European CanSat Competition. Well over one hundred students came from far and wide, including for the first time ever a guest team from Japan, to make this edition the biggest ever!

Read the full story here.
launch vehicle requiring a more powerful crane, new pallets, and modified fluid services. The Vega launch zone (ELV), comprises a permanent infrastructure (the bunker) and a mobile building (the gantry).

Vega-C is expected to debut in mid-2019, increasing performance from Vega’s current 1.5 t to about 2.2 t in a reference 700 km polar orbit, covering identified European institutional users’ mission needs, with no increase in launch service and operating costs.

The participating States in this development are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Ariane 6 Launcher Assembly Building
The ELA-4 launch zone at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana is currently undergoing reconstruction in preparation for Europe’s Ariane 6 launch vehicle.

In this image you see the Launcher Assembly Building (BAL) which is 20 m tall, 112 m long and 41 m wide, located some 1 km away from the launch zone. It is used for launch vehicle horizontal integration and preparation before rollout to the launch zone.
Sim training
The BepiColombo team, led by Elsa Montagnon, seen in the main control room at ESA’s ESOC mission control centre during simulation training for ESA’s first mission to Mercury.

BepiColombo will set off in 2018 on a journey to the smallest and least-explored terrestrial planet in our Solar System, and is due to arrive in late 2025.

Achieving orbit around Mercury is a challenge because of its proximity to the Sun, whose massive gravitational influence attracts spacecraft to it like water down a plughole.

The mission team will oversee a series of nine flybys around Earth, Venus then Mercury itself to slow BepiColombo down so it can be captured by the innermost planet. ESA interplanetary missions normally perform flybys to add speed; BepiColombo marks the first time that flybys are used to a slow a spacecraft.
Deep breath
Developed by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, the Airway Monitoring experiment measures astronauts’ breath to determine the health of their lungs. The potential findings will go towards developing better diagnostic tools for airway disease in patients on Earth.

The analyser measures the amount of nitric oxide in exhaled air. Too much nitric oxide suggests inflammation. Causes can be environmental, like dust or pollution, or clinical, such as asthma - at least on Earth, but what happens in space?

To find out, astronauts breathe into an analyser at normal pressure and then in the reduced pressure of the Quest airlock, which simulates the pressure of future habitats on Mars and lunar colonies. The measurements are then compared to the same reduced and ambient pressure data taken before flight to understand the effects of weightlessness on airway health.