European Space Agency, ESA

ESA Preview 2014

Copyright ESA

2014 has all the elements to become an interesting year for Europe in space… Exciting launches, new European astronauts on the ISS, new satellites and landers and important decisions that will mark the direction of Europe’s future space programme. But 2014 starts with one name: ROSETTA.


ESA Highlights 2013

Copyright ESA

2013 has been a year of firsts, farewells and astonishing findings. It began with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano training for the Volare Mission in Russia’s Star City and it ended with Gaia, ESA’s billion-star surveyor, lifting off from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou. But a lot more has happened in between!


#WakeUpRosetta – Save the date

Published on Dec 2, 2013

#WakeUpRosetta – Save the date. At 10:00 UTC on 20 January 2014, ESA’s comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft will wake up from 31 months in deep-space hibernation. Save the date and join the adventure. More info at



Earth from Space: Aorounga

Published on Nov 29, 2013

Earth from Space is presented by Kelsea Brennan-Wessels from the ESA Web-TV virtual studios. The Aorounga Crater in northern Chad is featured in the eighty-fifth edition.

See also… to download the image.


From launch to landing: Luca’s Volare mission

Published on Nov 27, 2013

Luca Parmitano was the first of ESA’s class of 2009 astronauts to visit the International Space Station. In his own words, this summary of his five-month mission shows his spacewalks, scientific experiments, supply spacecraft that docked with the orbital outpost and astronaut views of planet Earth.


Magnetic field: learning more with Swarm

Published on Nov 27, 2013

To learn more about Earth’s magnetic field, the three Swarm satellites were launched on 22 November. Like 3D compasses, they are measuring the strength and direction of the magnetic field.

This is the third of three videos:
Magnetic field: an introduction
Magnetic field: why it matters
Magnetic field: learning more with Swarm

More about Swarm:


Herschel’s 37 000 science observations

Published on Nov 25, 2013

This animation shows the timeline of over 37 000 scientific observations made by ESA’s Herschel space observatory throughout its entire mission, condensed into less than a minute.

The animation was prepared by Pedro Gómez-Alvarez in the Herschel Science Centre Community Support Group and presented by Herschel’s Project Scientist Göran Pilbratt during the opening session of The Universe Explored by Herschel symposium held at ESA’s ESTEC facility, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, last month.

The animation runs from launch, on 14 May 2009, until the infrared observatory made its last observation on 29 April 2013.

Credit: ESA & P. Gómez-Alvarez / music: B. Lynne.


Magnetic field: why it matters

Published on Nov 25, 2013

Earth’s magnetic field is continuously changing. Magnetic north wanders, and every few hundred thousand years the polarity gradually flips, so that a compass would point south instead of north.

This is the second of three videos:
Magnetic field: an introduction
Magnetic field: why it matters
Magnetic field: learning more with Swarm 


Swarm liftoff

Published on Nov 22, 2013

Replay of the Swarm liftoff on a Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia at 12:02 GMT (13:02 CET) on 22 November 2013.

The three-satellite Swarm mission aims to provide new information on the sources of the magnetic field inside Earth. This includes understanding how the magnetic field is related to the motion of molten iron in the outer core, how the conductivity of the mantle is related to its composition and how the crust has been magnetised over geological timescales.

It will also investigate how the magnetic field relates to Earth’s environment through the radiation belts and their near-Earth effects, including the solar wind energy input into the upper atmosphere.


Magnetic field: an introduction

Published on Nov 22, 2013

An introduction to Earth’s magnetic field: what it is, where it comes from and what it’s used for.

This is the first of three videos:
Magnetic field: an introduction
Magnetic field: why it matters
Magnetic field: learning more with Swarm 


Guide to our Galaxy

Published on Nov 21, 2013

This virtual journey shows the different components that make up our home galaxy, the Milky Way, which contains about a hundred billion stars.

It starts at the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way and with the stars that orbit around it, before zooming out through the central Galactic Bulge, which hosts about ten billion stars.

The journey continues through a younger population of stars in the stellar disc, home to most of the Milky Way’s stars, and which is embedded in a slightly larger gaseous disc. Stars in the disc are arranged in a spiral arm pattern and orbit the centre of the Galaxy.

The discs and bulge are embedded in the stellar halo, a spherical structure that consists of a large number of globular clusters — the oldest population of stars in the Galaxy — as well as many isolated stars. An even larger halo of invisible dark matter is inferred by its gravitational effect on the motions of stars in the Galaxy.

Looking at a face-on view of the Galaxy we see the position of our Sun, located at a distance of about 26 000 light-years from the Galactic Centre.

Finally, the extent of the stellar survey conducted by ESA’s Hipparcos mission is shown, which surveyed more than 100 000 stars up to 300 light-years away from the Sun. In comparison, ESA’s Gaia survey will study one billion stars out to 30 000 light-years away.


3D virtual spacewalk outside the International Space Station

Published on Nov 19, 2013

Get an idea of what it feels like to see the International Space Station from the outside, as an astronaut on a spacewalk. Put your 3D glasses on to appreciate the size of humankind’s orbital laboratory and watch a Soyuz spacecraft undock and a docking with ESA’s supply spacecraft Automated Transfer Vehicle.


3D virtual tour of the International Space Station

Published on Nov 19, 2013

Put your 3D glasses on for this virtual visit of the International Space Station’s modules. Float through the space laboratories and connecting modules from the perspective of an astronaut.


Soyuz undocking, reentry and landing explained

Published on Nov 11, 2013

How does an astronaut return to Earth from the International Space Station? What does it feel like to re-enter the atmosphere? How does the Soyuz capsule function? Watch and find out. This video is based on an actual lesson delivered to the ESA astronaut class of 2009 (also known as the #Shenanigans09) during their ESA Basic Training. It features interviews with astronauts who have flown on the Soyuz and dramatic footage of actual landings.

Produced by the ESA Human Spaceflight and Operations (HSO) Astronaut Training Division, Cologne, Germany, in collaboration with the HSO Strategic Planning and Outreach Office, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, with special support from Roskosmos.

Narration Voice: Bernard Oattes

Technical Experts: Stephane Ghiste, Dmitriy Churkin (HSO-UT)

Content Design: Stephane Ghiste, Dmitriy Churkin, Raffaele Castellano, Matthew Day (HSO-UT)

Animation & Video Editing: Raffaele Castellano (HSO-UT), HSO-K

Project Coordination: Matthew Day, Stephane Ghiste, Dmitriy Churkin (HSO-UT)

Special thanks to:
Martin Schweiger (Orbiter software: http://orbit/
Nikita Vtyurin, Andrew Thielmann (Orbiter Soyuz model)
Lionel Ferra (HSO-UT)
Oleg Polovnikov (HSO-UT)
Frank De Winne (HSO-A)
Paolo Nespoli (HSO-A)
Antonio Rodenas Bosque (HSO-UT)
S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia
Aerospace Search and Rescue Service of the Russian Federation

Parachute footage: Cambridge University Spaceflight

Surfer footage: copyright Red Bull Media House

Footage from inside Soyuz capsule courtesy of RSC Energia has limited rights:

a) These data are submitted with Limited Rights under Agreement among the Government of Canada, Governments of Member States of the European Space Agency, the Government of Japan, the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America concerning co-operation on the civil International Space Station.

These data may be used by the receiving co-operating agency and its contractors and subcontractors, provided that such data shall be used, duplicated or disclosed only for the following purposes, which are related to the Cooperating Agency Space Station Program for ISS:
1) Use for ESA astronaut training
2) Use for educational purposes
These data shall not be used by persons or entities other than the receiving Cooperating Agency, its contractors or subcontractors, or for any other purposes, without the prior written permission of the furnishing partner state, acting through its cooperating agency.

b) This notice shall be marked on any reproduction of these data in whole or part.

Also watch:
Journey to the ISS Part 1: The launch sequence explained…


Mars showcase

Published on Oct 28, 2013

From the highest volcano to the deepest canyon, from impact craters to ancient river beds and lava flows, this showcase of images from ESA’s Mars Express takes you on an unforgettable journey across the Red Planet.

Mars Express was launched on 2 June 2003 and arrived at Mars six-and-a-half months later. It has since orbited the planet nearly 12 500 times, providing scientists with unprecedented images and data collected by its suite of scientific instruments.

The data have been used to create an almost global digital topographic model of the surface, providing a unique visualisation and enabling researchers to acquire new and surprising information about the evolution of the Red Planet.

The images in this movie were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera and the video was released by the DLR German Aerospace Center as part of the ten years of Mars Express celebrations in June 2013. The music has been created by Stephan Elgner of DLR’s Mars Express planetary cartography team. DLR developed and is operating the stereo camera.

Read the original post on DLR’s website here:…

Credit: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin (G. Neukum)


Fly-through movie of Hebes Chasma

Published on Jul 16, 2013

Fly-through movie of Hebes Chasma, the northernmost part of Valles Marineris. The movie was created from images taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express.

Copyright: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)


The Horsehead Nebula in new light

Published on Apr 19, 2013

This fly-through takes the observer on a journey into the famous constellation of Orion, to visit the iconic Horsehead Nebula and its fascinating environment. A new wide-field view from ESA’s Herschel space observatory complements the latest close-up view of the Horsehead by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The new views are combined here with ground-based images from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), the ESO Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), and the Digitized Sky Survey 2 (DSS2).


Venus solar transit 2012 – Proba-2’s journey across the Sun

Published on Jun 5, 2012

This movie shows the transit of Venus on 5-6 June 2012 as seen from SWAP, a Belgian solar imager onboard ESA’s PROBA2 microsatellite. SWAP, watching the Sun in EUV light, observes Venus as a small, black circle, obscuring the EUV light emitted from the solar outer atmosphere – the corona – from 19:45UT onwards. At 22:16UT – Venus started its transit of the solar disk

The bright dots all over the image (‘snow storm’) are energetic particles hitting the SWAP detector when PROBA2 crosses the South Atlantic Anomaly, a region where the protection of the Earth magnetic field against space radiation is known to be weaker.

Note also the small flaring activity in the bright active region in the northern solar hemisphere as Venus passes over. Towards the end, you can see a big dim inverted-U-shape moving away from the Sun towards the bottom-right corner. This is a coronal mass ejection taking off.

Credit: ESA/ROB


Timelapse of Western Europe seen from onboard the ISS

Published on Mar 5, 2012

Western Europe in timelapse as seen from the International Space Station by ESA astronaut André Kuipers, during his long-duration mission to the ISS, PromISSe


How do you wash your clothes in space?

Uploaded on Aug 22, 2009

Frank De Winne is answering a question on the ISS submitted by Herman from Belgium:
– How do you wash your clothes in space?
– Do you use washing powder to wash your clothes in space?

12 thoughts on “European Space Agency, ESA

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