From European Space Agency – United space in Europe: “Ozone hole set to close”

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From European Space Agency – United space in Europe

08/11/2019

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The size of the ozone hole fluctuates – usually forming each year in August, with its peak in October, before finally closing in late November or December. Not only will the hole close earlier than usual in 2019, but it is also the smallest it has been in 30 years owing to unusual atmospheric conditions.

Forecasts from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which uses total ozone measurements from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission processed at the German Aerospace Center, have forecasted that this year’s ozone hole will close sooner than usual.

Antje Inness, CAMS Senior Scientist commented, “The ozone hole’s maximum extent this year was around 10 million sq km, less than half of the size the ozone hole usually reached in the last decades. This makes it one of the smallest ozone holes since the 1980s. Our CAMS ozone forecasts predict that the ozone hole will close within a week.”

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Ozone Forcast Charts

ESA’s mission manager for Copernicus Sentinel-5P, Claus Zehner, noted, “This record-breaking small ozone hole size and duration during 2019 was caused by a warming of the stratosphere over the South Pole. However, it’s important to note that this is an unusual event and does not indicate that the global ozone recovery is speeding up.”

ESA Copernicus Sentinel-5P

Large fluctuations in polar vortices and temperatures in the stratosphere lead to ozone holes that vary in size. This year, the warmer polar stratosphere caused a slowing down of the wind fields around the South Pole, or the polar vortex, and reduced the formation of the ‘polar stratospheric clouds’ that enable the chemistry that leads to rapid ozone loss.

Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation programmes, said, “The ozone hole is a perfect example where scientific evidence led to significant policy change and subsequently changes in human behaviour. The ozone hole was discovered in the 1970s, continuously monitored from space and by in situ devices and, finally in the 1980s led to the Montreal Protocol forbidding the use of chlorofluorocarbons.

“Today, the ozone hole is recovering thanks to clear political action. This example shall serve as inspiration for climate change.”

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The animation shows the size of the ozone hole in 2019 compared to 2018

High up in the stratosphere, the ozone acts as a shield to protect us from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, which is associated with skin cancer and cataracts, as well as other environmental issues.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the widespread use of damaging chlorofluorocarbons in products such as refrigerators and aerosol tins damaged ozone high up in our atmosphere – which led to a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.

In response to this, the Montreal Protocol was created in 1987 to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of these harmful substances, which is leading to a recovery of the ozone layer.

Recovery of the ozone hole will continue over the coming years. In the 2018 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion, data shows that the ozone layer in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000. At these projected rates, the Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone is predicted to recover by around 2030, followed by the Southern Hemisphere around 2050, and polar regions by 2060.

ESA has been involved in monitoring ozone for many years. Launched in October 2017, Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite maps a multitude of air pollutants around the globe. With its state-of-the-art instrument, Tropomi, it is able to detect atmospheric gases to image air pollutants more accurately and at a higher spatial resolution than ever before from space.

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Ozone hole duration and extension as monitored by CAMS

See the full article here .


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Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

Stem Education Coalition

The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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From European Space Agency: “Cargo load”

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From European Space Agency

05/11/2019

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The Cygnus NG-12 cargo vehicle hangs out after arriving to the International Space Station on 4 November.

The latest resupply mission includes over 4 tonnes of science experiments, crew supplies, and station hardware. It also crucially includes components essential for the series of spacewalks taking place this month.

In a few weeks ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan will venture out to perform a series of spacewalks four years in the making. The extravehicular activities, or EVAs, will service and enhance the dark matter-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02.

CERN Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer

The space-based Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the ISS

The dark-matter hunter was launched in 2011 and records over 17 billion cosmic rays, particles and nuclei a year. Results from the particle physics detector are among the top five most-cited publications from International Space Station research.

The instrument was initially meant to run for only three years but has been so successful that its mission has been extended. However, three of the four cooling pumps have stopped functioning and will require multiple spacewalks to repair.

Luca will take a leading role in the spacewalks with the first intended to determine just how and where to intervene, and what tools will be needed for the process.

Listen to the ESA Explores podcast on spacewalks to learn how astronauts prepare to venture into the cold dark of space.

In the meantime, the crew are unloading the supplies, which also include fresh food and hardware for the rover-driving Analog-1 experiment, parts for ESA’s next-generation life support system as well as a software upgrade for boiling experiment Rubi and parts for the commercial external platform Bartolomeo that will be installed outside Europe’s space lab Columbus.

See the full article here .


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Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

Stem Education Coalition

The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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From European Space Agency: “A decade probing the Sun”

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From European Space Agency

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Proba2 view of the solar north pole pillars.

04/11/2019

ESA/Proba2

Ten years ago, a small satellite carrying 17 new devices, science instruments and technology experiments was launched into orbit, on a mission to investigate our star and the environment that it rules in space.

On 2 November, 2009, Proba2 began its journey on board a Rockot launcher from the Russian launch base, Plesetsk, and was inserted into a Sun-synchronous orbit around Earth.

Tracing this ‘dusk-dawn’ line – where night meets day – Proba2 maintains a constant view of the Sun, keeping its batteries charged and its target in sight.

The second in ESA’s ‘Project for Onboard Autonomy’ series, Proba2 is so advanced it is able to look after itself on a day-to-day basis, needing just a small team at the Agency’s control station at ESEC in Redu, Belgium, to run the mission.

Instrumental solar observations

Proba2 has two main solar instruments, SWAP and LYRA, designed for studying events at the Sun that could impact Earth.

SWAP takes images of the Sun’s corona, the roughly 1 million degree plasma-filled atmosphere that surrounds the star.

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Sun’s shape-shifting atmosphere viewed by Proba2’s SWAP camera

With an extremely wide field-of-view, SWAP is able to see structures around the edge of the Sun, such as huge outbursts of hot matter known as coronal mass ejections, sudden flares releasing enormous amounts of light as well as eerie ‘coronal holes’, dark shadowy regions spewing out fast-moving solar wind.

The LYRA instrument monitors the Sun’s ultraviolet output, and is able to make up to 100 measurements per second. This high rate means the instrument can make detailed studies of fast-moving ‘transient’ events such as solar flares.

A stellar record

During its decade in space, the small satellite – less than a cubic metre in size – has:

Orbited the Earth ~53,000 times
Produced ~30,000 LYRA data files on solar ultraviolet emission
Produced ~2,090,000 SWAP images of the solar disk
Passed our ground stations in Redu, Belgium and Svalbard, Norway (Arctic) 32,453 times
Helped produce more than 100 peer-reviewed papers

More information about Proba2 satellite and its measurements can be found at the Proba2 Science Center 10 year anniversary page.

What next for Proba2?

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The Sun in 2018

One of the many mysteries of our star is the way its activity rises and falls in 11 year cycles. From one cycle to the next, the Sun’s north and south poles trade places and the number of flares, coronal mass ejections, sunspots and coronal loops fluctuate from many per day in active periods to weeks without any when it is quiet.

In 2020, the 11th year of the Proba2 mission, it will have been monitoring the Sun for a full solar cycle.

This landmark period will allow the satellite to probe the Sun’s evolution over the long term, comparing the current quiet period with the last solar minimum, and ready for when the Sun again ‘wakes up’ in 2024/2025.

Space weather

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Space weather effects

Unpredictable and temperamental, the Sun makes life on the innermost planets of the Solar System impossible due to intense radiation and colossal amounts of energetic material that it blasts in every direction, creating the ever-changing conditions in space known as ‘space weather’.

At Earth, extreme solar events have the potential to disrupt and damage infrastructure in space and on the ground, and intense bursts of radiation threaten future explorers to the Moon and Mars.

ESA’s Space Weather Office, part of the agency’s Space Safety activities, is working to help European operators of sensitive infrastructure including satellites, power lines, aviation and transport to avoid adverse impacts of space weather. The mission of the Space Weather Office is to develop a system that provides timely and accurate space weather information and forecasts to operational users and public in Europe.

Find out about ESA’s planned Lagrange mission to provide solar warning, here, and the Space Weather Service Network, getting the word out to those who need to know.

See the full article here .


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Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

Stem Education Coalition

The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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From European Space Agency: “Juice cast in gold”

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From European Space Agency

04/11/2019

ESA JUICE Schematic

ESA/Juice spacecraft depiction

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G. Fischer/IWF Graz

This model of Juice was built by the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, and the tests were performed by the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute in Graz, Austria, as part of a project financed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). The lead scientist for the calibration effort was Georg Fischer of the Space Research Institute, also using computer simulations performed by Mykhaylo Panchenko.

In a decade’s time, an exciting new visitor will enter the Jovian system: ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, or Juice. As its name suggests, the mission will explore Jupiter and three of its largest moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa – to investigate the giant planet’s cosmic family and gas giant planets in general.

Juice is planned for launch in 2022, and its instruments are currently being perfected and calibrated so they are ready to start work once in space. This image shows one of the many elements involved in this calibration process: a miniature gold-plated metallic model of Juice used to test the spacecraft’s antennas.

Juice will carry multiple antennas to detect radio waves in the Jupiter system. These antennas will measure the characteristics of the incoming waves, including the direction in which they are moving and their degree of polarisation, and then use this information to trace the waves back to their sources. In order to do this, the antennas must work well regardless of their orientation to any incoming waves – and so scientists must figure out and correct for the antennas’ so-called ‘directional dependence’.

This shiny model was used to perform a set of tests on Juice’s Radio and Plasma Wave Instrument (RPWI) last year. It was submerged in a tank filled with water; an even electric field was then applied to the tank, and the model was moved and rotated with respect to this field. The results revealed how the antennas will receive radio waves that stream in from different directions and orientations with respect to the spacecraft, and will enable the instrument to be calibrated to be as effective as possible in its measurements of Jupiter and its moons.

Similar tests, which are technically referred to as rheometry, were conducted in the past for spacecraft including the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn (which operated at Saturn between 2004 and 2017), NASA’s Juno spacecraft (currently in orbit around Jupiter), and ESA’s Solar Orbiter (scheduled for launch in early 2020 to investigate the Sun up close).

NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft schematic

NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft

NASA/Juno

ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter depiction

The test performed for Juice posed a few additional hurdles – the model’s antennas were especially small and needed to be fixed accurately onto the model’s boom, which required scientists to create a special device to adjust not only the antennas, but also the boom itself.

The model was produced at a 1:40 scale, making each antenna 62.5 millimetres long from tip to tip; scaled up, the antennas will be 2.5 metres long on Juice. The main spacecraft parts modelled here include the body of the probe itself, its solar panels, and its antennas and booms. The model has an overall ‘wingspan’ of 75 centimetres across its solar panels. The photo also shows a spacecraft stand, which extends out of the bottom of the frame. The gold coating ensured that the model had excellent electric conducting properties, and reacted minimally with the surrounding water and air during the measurements.

Meanwhile, the assembly of the Juice flight model has started in September, with the delivery of the spacecraft’s primary structure, followed by integration of the propulsion system.

From ESA 23 October 2019

JUICE begins to take shape

The assembly of the flight model of ESA’s JUICE spacecraft began in September, with the delivery of the spacecraft’s primary structure, followed by integration of the propulsion system that will enable the mission to reach and study Jupiter and its moons.

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Unpacking of JUICE primary structure in Lampoldshausen. Credit: Courtesy of Airbus and ArianeGroup

On 2 September, the main skeleton of JUICE was delivered to the Arianegroup facility in Lampoldshausen, Germany.

The primary structure of the spacecraft features a central tube – the main load bearing element – with vertical shear panels located radially around the tube, and horizontal floor panels. This will be completed later with the optical bench and external closing panels that will form the outer walls and will be added when all the internal equipment has been integrated.

The structure is part of the so-called Structure, Shielding and Thermal Subsystem (SSTS), built under the responsibility of Airbus Defence & Space in Madrid, Spain, with participation by RUAG Space Switzerland and RUAG Space Austria.

One of the features of the JUICE SSTS is that the some of the vertical panels and parts of the closing walls of the structure are lined with a thin layer of lead, which provides shielding to protect the spacecraft’s electronic systems from damage by the severe radiation environment at Jupiter.

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JUICE propulsion system integration. Credit: Courtesy of Airbus and ArianeGroup

Over the coming months, five companies will be working almost simultaneously on the STSS in order to ensure that JUICE can proceed to the assembly and integration phase that will take place in Airbus facilities in Friedrichshafen, Germany, so that it will be completed and ready for launch in 2022.

One of the main tasks at Lampoldshausen will be to integrate the propulsion system. This includes two identical propellant tanks that have been newly developed for EuroStar Neo, ESA’s new generation of platforms for geostationary telecommunications satellites. JUICE will be the first space mission to actually utilise them.

The first titanium tank, capable of holding 1600 litres of oxidant (mixed oxides of nitrogen, or MON), was carefully lowered inside the spacecraft’s central cylinder on 7 September. The second tank, which will contain monomethyl hydrazine (MMH) fuel, is scheduled for installation at the end of October.

“JUICE will need to carry more than 3000 kg of propellant in these tanks,” said Daniel Escolar, ESA’s Mechanical, Thermal & Propulsion System Engineer for the mission.

“Such a large load will be essential for JUICE to arrive in orbit around Jupiter and complete its scientific tour with multiple flybys of the Galilean moons, before eventually becoming the first spacecraft ever to enter orbit around Ganymede.”

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JUICE propulsion system piping. Credit: Courtesy of ArianeGroup

The integration of the spacecraft’s propulsion system will, however, involve much more than installing two propellant tanks. Eventually, three fairly small tanks, each filled with helium pressurant, will be affixed around the exterior of the central cylinder, together with all the necessary plumbing. Some 130 metres of titanium piping will also have to be installed and welded in the STSS.

Other hardware to be added during installation of the propulsion system will include pressure regulators, valves, filters and thrusters. In addition to its single 400-newton main engine that will be used for the larger orbital manoeuvres, JUICE will carry eight 22-newton thrusters for smaller manoeuvres and as a backup system, along with twelve 10-newton thrusters for attitude control.

Meanwhile, engineers are busy carrying out other essential tasks that can only be completed whilst the external panels are not fitted, enabling easy access to the spacecraft’s interior. These include placing single layer insulation around the central cylinder, adding thermocouples to measure temperatures, and attaching support fixtures for the harness that will eventually be required to carry around 10 km of electrical cable.

According to the current schedule, the JUICE flight model will be moved to Friedrichshafen around March next year for integration and testing of its electrical systems.

Meanwhile, development of the JUICE scientific payload is continuing, and the magnetometer boom for the flight model has recently been delivered to ESA’s Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, for three weeks of vibration and deployment tests.

About JUICE

JUICE – JUpiter ICy moons Explorer – is the first large-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme. It will complete a unique tour of the Jupiter system that will include in-depth studies of three potentially ocean-bearing satellites, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.

The Jupiter tour includes several flybys of each planet-sized world, culminating with orbit insertion around Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System, followed by nine months of operations in its orbit.

JUICE will carry the most powerful scientific payload ever flown to the outer Solar System. It consists of 10 state-of-the-art instruments plus one experiment that uses the spacecraft telecommunication system with ground-based instruments.

JUICE’s instruments will enable scientists to compare each of these icy satellites and to investigate the potential for such bodies to harbour habitable environments such as subsurface oceans. They will also carry out observations of Jupiter, its atmosphere, magnetosphere, satellites and rings.

See the full article here .


five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

Stem Education Coalition

The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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From European Space Agency: “Revealing interior temperature of Antarctic ice sheet”

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From European Space Agency

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04/11/2019

As ESA’s SMOS satellite celebrates 10 years in orbit, yet another result has been added to its list of successes. This remarkable satellite mission has shown that it can be used to measure how the temperature of the Antarctic ice sheet changes with depth – and it’s much warmer deep down.

ESA/SMOS

The Antarctic ice sheet is, on average, about 2 km thick, but in some places the bedrock is almost 5 km below the surface of this huge polar ice cap.

Most of us would probably think that the temperature of ice, no matter how thick, remains pretty much the same throughout: basically very cold

However, although the surface of the ice sheet is cold, the temperature increases with depth primarily because of the basal geothermal heating from beneath Earth’s crust. In places, it is warm enough to melt the ice, which accounts for the presence of lakes and a vast hydrological network at the bedrock.

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Antarctic temperature profile

Nevertheless, there is little accurate information on exactly how temperature varies with depth other than from ice core borehole locations.

Since the massive white ice sheets that blanket Antarctica and Greenland reflect incident solar radiation back out into space, they are extremely important regulators in the climate system and, therefore, play a key role in the health of our planet.

But, ice sheets are also victims of climate change. For example, this year scientists discovered that warming ocean waters have caused the ice to thin so rapidly that a quarter of the glacier ice in West Antarctica is now unstable.

With melting ice sheets largely responsible for rising sea levels, which, in turn, threaten hundreds of millions of people around the world, it is vital that more is understood about how temperature influences ice-sheet dynamics.

Satellite data are used, in particular, to measure changes in the height of ice sheets and consequently their ‘mass balance’, where the ice sheet ends and the floating ice shelves begin – their grounding lines, their surface temperature and how fast ice streams flow.

However, temperature is one of the things that determines ice viscosity and how ice flows and slides over the bedrock beneath. In turn, ice flow affects the temperature profile through strain heating – so it’s a complicated process.

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Temperature information is also fundamental for understanding the presence of aquifers inside or at the bottom part of ice sheets. This can be relevant for indicating the presence of sub-glacial lakes, for example, which, in turn, influence ice-sheet dynamics.

How temperature varies according to the depth of the ice is not something that could be measured from space until now – but according to a paper published recently in Science Direct, SMOS is opening up new opportunities to do so.

Giovanni Macelloni from the Institute of Applied Physics ‘Nello Carrara’ of the National Research Council (IFAC-CNR) in Italy, said, “We typically get ice-sheet temperature profiles from models, or from in situ measurements taken in boreholes – but these are obviously fairly sparse.”

Information on temperature from space has, so far, been limited to the surface or just below the surface from thermal-infrared sensors and microwave sensors.

The researchers from IFAC-CNR and the Institute of Environmental Geosciences in France, therefore used ESA’s SMOS satellite to see if there is a way of gaining this information rather than relying on models and boreholes.

“We combined SMOS’ L-band passive microwave observations over Antarctica with glaciological and emission models to infer information on glaciological properties of the ice sheet at various depths, including temperature,” continued Dr Macelloni.

“With temperature playing such an important role in ice-sheet dynamics, we are happy to say that our research, when compared with models, shows a better estimation of temperature increase with depth, with the largest differences close to the bedrock.

“SMOS is clearly opening up more possibilities that we ever thought when it was launched 10 years ago.”

See the full article here .


five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

Stem Education Coalition

The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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#revealing-interior-temperature-of-antarctic-ice-sheet, #esa, #smos

From European Space Agency: “Craving for cold isolation – research doctor rotation in Antarctica”

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From European Space Agency

01/11/2019

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Did you know the largest desert in the world is also the coldest place in the world? In the heart of Antarctica, where temperatures can drop to –80°C, life is so hard there is no life to be found as even bacteria cannot survive.

Travel 1300 km from the coast and you will pass very little except white plains as far as the eye can see, until the remote outpost of the Italian-French research base Concordia.

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Concordia

Over 600 km from the nearest living beings (the Russian station Vostok), the French and Italian polar institutes house up to 15 people in Concordia to study glaciology, astronomy and the climate in this unique location far from civilisation.

The location is so remote and alien that ESA sends a research medical doctor each year to study the crew, as what they experience is similar to a crew on a lunar base including lower oxygen levels, no sunlight for extended periods, no possibility of rescue, confinement and going outside requires preparation.

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Concordia sunset

ESA’s current medical doctor, Nadja Albertsen from Denmark, has survived her stay in the cold and welcomed the return of sunlight. The crew are preparing for the arrival of fresh supplies and the “Summer scientists” that flock to Antarctica in the warmer months.

Meanwhile, Nadja’s replacement, Stijn Thoolen, from the Netherlands is preparing to embark on his year-long Antarctic adventure. He visited sites in France, Germany and Italy to learn about the experiments he will run, and is preparing psychologically for the time in extreme isolation.

Ice-cold research

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Concordia crew

“Together with the French and Italian institutes we do our best to prepare the crew for the extremes they will encounter during the stay in Concordia,” explains Jennifer Ngo-Anh, ESA’s head of human research at Human and Robotic Exploration, “but in reality, what they will experience is so alien it is almost impossible to be fully prepared – although for us that is the point, we want to study how the crew adapts to the experience, both physically and mentally.”

Stijn will continue the research Nadja has been running for scientists in Europe, much like how astronauts conduct experiments on the International Space Station. These include experiments that will look at how the immune system copes with bacteria when living in such confined spaces, seeing if the amount of red blood cells and plasma changes over time, whether mindfulness can help alleviate stress and even a study into sexual well-being.

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Stijn Thoolen during ultra-marathon

Although there is nothing quite like living in Concordia, Stijn comes well prepared having mountaineering experience and even completing an ultra-marathon in the world’s second-largest desert, showing endurance in the hottest place in the world.

With nervous anticipation Stijn says “In an era where life leaves Earth for the first time in its history, and our perspective on the world and ourselves is challenged, it is an honour to be part of the effort to explore farther.”

Follow Nadja and Stijn on the Chronicles from Concordia blog. ESA is looking for applicants for Researchers can keep an eye out on opportunities to propose experiments for Concordia or any other of ESA’s research facilities via this page.

ESA is now looking for next year’s medical doctor to start training and take over the baton from Stijn for the winter 2021. If you are from an ESA Member State, have medical degree and are looking for an adventure you will never forget, apply for the position here.

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Alone in Antarctica

Science & Exploration
Human and Robotic Exploration

See the full article here .


five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

Stem Education Coalition

The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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#craving-for-cold-isolation-research-doctor-rotation-in-antarctica, #astronomy, #astrophysics, #basic-research, #concordia, #cosmology, #esa

From European Space Agency: “Lonely hearts club”

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From European Space Agency

01/11/2019

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ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Bellini et al.; CC BY 4.0

Galaxies may seem lonely, floating alone in the vast, inky blackness of the sparsely populated cosmos — but looks can be deceiving. The subject of this Picture of the Week, NGC 1706, is a good example of this. NGC 1706 is a spiral galaxy, about 230 million light-years away, in the constellation of Dorado (The Swordfish).

NGC 1706 is known to belong to something known as a galaxy group, which is just as the name suggests — a group of up to 50 galaxies which are gravitationally bound and hence relatively close to each other. Around half of the galaxies we know of in the Universe belong to some kind of group, making them incredibly common cosmic structures. Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, belongs to the Local Group, which also contains the Andromeda Galaxy, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, and the Triangulum Galaxy.

Groups are the smallest of galactic gatherings; others are clusters, which can comprise hundreds of thousands of galaxies bound loosely together by gravity, and subsequent superclusters, which bring together numerous clusters into a single entity.

Space Science

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The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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