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European Space Agency, ESA
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The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space.

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Brush up on ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli and learn more about his upcoming #VITAmission, launching from #Baikonur Cosmodrome on 28 July. Download, zoom, explore here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/35871052022/in/dateposted/

Credit: ESA
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7/21/17
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#HumanSpaceflight image of the week features a cool suit.

If the suit makes the man, than the #Sokol is what makes the astronaut, as ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli knows well. He will be suited up in this Sokol outfit for his 28 July launch to the International Space Station as part of Expedition 52/53.

Worn by every astronaut in a #Soyuz vehicle, the Russian Sokol provides protection in the event of an air leak. The suit is tailor-made for each astronaut and is intended for life support only inside Soyuz.

Once aboard the Station, the astronauts store the suits for their return flight to Earth. Before launch, the suits are checked for leaks by inflating them to high pressure, as seen here.

Paolo and crewmates Sergey Ryazansky of Roscosmos and Randy Bresnik of NASA are in Baikonur for final training as well as a series of preflight traditions.

In addition to Sokol testing this week, the crew also visited their Soyuz MS spacecraft for a final check this week. Traditions completed so far include the flag-raising ceremony and museum visits.

Paolo’s third and last mission to the Station is named #Vita, which means “life” in Italian, and reflects the experiments Paolo will run and the philosophical notion of living in outer space – one of the most inhospitable places for humans.

Follow Paolo during his mission at paolonespoli.esa.int.

Credit: ESA
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Download the high-resolution #Sentinel-3A satellite image featured on this week's #EarthfromSpace:
http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2017/07/Northeastern_Europe

Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017), processed by ESA
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#EarthfromSpace features the #BalticSea and surrounding countries with the help of #Copernicus #Sentinel-3A satellite. 

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#Google street view now in space! ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet worked with +Google Maps to capture street view imagery of the inside of the International Space Station during his #Proxima mission.

Check it out here: https://www.google.com/streetview/#international-space-station


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With #Sentinel-5 Precursor about to be packed up and shipped to Russia for liftoff in late September, media representatives, members of the UK Space Agency and National Centre for Earth Observation had the chance to see this #Copernicus air-pollution monitoring satellite standing proud in the cleanroom.

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Learn more about the future of European launchers with #Ariane6 and #VegaC. 

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#Operations image of the week features complexity.

The flight dynamics experts working on the #ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission meet regularly to assess progress of the spacecraft's almost-year-long aerobraking manoeuvres at #Mars.

The TGO orbiter swung into an initial, highly elliptical orbit at Mars on 19 October last year.

#Aerobraking - using drag from the faint wispy tendrils of the upper-most part of the martian atmosphere to slow and lower the spacecraft into its final science orbit - began on 15 March, and will take most of a year, following a cautious ‘slow-as-you-go’ strategy.

As with Goldilocks and the famous bears, staying too high won't drag on TGO sufficiently to reach its intended orbit anytime soon, while dipping too low into the atmosphere could slow it too much, with unwanted results.

Therefore, the flight dynamics team carefully assess the results of every aerobraking orbit, and make detailed predictions on the subsequent orbits based on realtime results. This means there is a lot of data to keep up with.

They have, of course, many sophisticated tools, applications and databases available to help determine orbits, visualise trajectories and calculate future spacecraft manoeuvres.

"But the white board in our briefing room is the best tool we've found for giving everyone an up-to-the-date, realtime view of aerobraking progress during our frequent review meetings," says ESA's Robert Guilanyà, seen above, the TGO flight dynamics team lead.

"A large group of people need to see and discuss the data collected from the atmospheric passages to plan subsequent aerobraking activities. Marking up the white board by hand is simple, easy and instantly viewable by all."

From 25 June to end-August, aerobraking is on pause due to Mars and Earth lining up on opposite sides of the Sun in a conjunction that greatly reduces the reliability and robustness of communication to and from the spacecraft.

Aerobraking will resume in August, and should continue until early 2018, when TGO will perform a series of final manoeuvres to transition to its approximately 400-km high, circular science orbit.

Credit: ESA
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A pair of ESA #rovers trundled around a Moon-like area of #Tenerife by both day and night during a nine-day test campaign, gathering terabytes of data for follow-up analysis.

A team from ESA’s Planetary Robotics Laboratory, with a vehicle called the Heavy Duty Planetary Rover (HDPR), joined engineers from GMV in Spain employing a second ESA-owned rover and associated control systems called the Rover Autonomy Testbed (RAT), as part of ESA’s Lunar Scenario Concept Validation and Demonstration (Lucid) project.
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