European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst snapped this spectacular view of the moon, Earth’s nearest neighbour and the next target for astronauts moving beyond low-Earth orbit, from his perch aboard the International Space Station. This week, ESA hosted a workshop in the Netherlands to discuss lunar resources and their role in sustainable space exploration. Learning how to extract oxygen and water for life support, producing propellants and building habitats and other structures using available resources will be critical to making such missions affordable, space planners say. ESA is meeting with industry officials, potential partners and space experts to explore “the technological readiness, commercial viability, legal status and international context for lunar resource use.”
As skywatchers and scientists converge on a transcontinental band of totality for Monday’s solar eclipse in the United States, engineers in Europe are building a unique pair of satellites to create artificial eclipses lasting for hours — a feat that that could be a boon for solar physicists but will escape the view of Earth-bound spectators.
Many galaxies blast huge, wide-angled flows of material outward from their centres, pushing to their outer edges enough dust and gas each year that otherwise would have formed more than a thousand stars the size of our Sun. A team led by University of Maryland scientists has found the driving force behind these massive molecular outflows.
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, a Russian-launched, European-built spacecraft that arrived at Mars in October, is starting to dip into the upper reaches of the red planet’s atmosphere in a year-long “aerobraking” campaign place the observatory in the right position to hunt for methane, an indicator of potential biological activity.