by Alex Autin


A Different View Of Space

The Photography of Edgar Martins


Photographer Edgar Martins has collaborated with the European Space Agency (ESA) to produce a comprehensive photographic gallery of the Agency’s various facilities, along with those of its international partners. Martins’ long-exposure photos, taken with analogue wide film cameras, document the variety of specialized installations and equipment needed to prepare missions for space. Martin, born in Evora, Portugal, is an award-wining photographer whose work has been featured internationally in several collections.

The above image is of a mockup of Node 2, or the Harmony Module of the International Space Station (ISS). The mockup is located in the Erasmus High Bay exhibition area of ESA’s Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.


Stored Sokol spacesuits in the astronauts’ dressing room at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Star City, Russian Federation. Sokol spacesuits are worn by astronauts on the Soyuz spacecraft. The Sokol is a rescue suit with the purpose of keeping the wearer alive in the event of accidental depressurization of the spacecraft. It’s not for use outside the spacecraft.


Mobile gantry, as seen from below, for ESA’s Vega launcher located at Centre Spatial Guyanais(CSG)-Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.


Helmet of a SCAPE suit used by the propulsion crew during spacecraft fueling operations at CSG-Europe’s Spaceport. SCAPE suits are used to protect the fueling operators from the toxic effects of hydrazine.


Columbus Training Simulator at ESA’s European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany, where astronauts train to use the Columbus Laboratory on-board the ISS. Columbus Laboratory is ESA’s largest single contribution to the space station and Europe’s first permanent research facility in space.

All Images Credited to Edgar Martins/ESA. For more photographs in this collection see Space As Never Seen Before. And for more of Martins’ work check out his website.


Ceres …Nearly There!

It Won’t Be Long Now


The above images of dwarf planet Ceres was captured by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft from about 25,000 miles away on Feb 25. Because of Dawn’s position relative to the dwarf plant/asteroid and the Sun, Ceres appears half in shadow. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

Launched in 2007, back when Apple was introducing the iPhone, and the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was being published, NASA’s asteroid-hopping, ion propulsion driven, Dawn Spacecraft is just days away from being the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters orbit around Ceres on Friday, Mar 6.

Dawn began its final approach phase toward Ceres in Dec and since then the spacecraft has been busy taking optical navigation images and making two rotation characterizations which allowed Ceres to be observed through its full nine-hour rotation. Since late Jan Dawn has been delivering the highest-resolution images of Ceres EVER captured.


This sped-up movie of Ceres’ rotation is comprised of images taken by Dawn during its approach. The images were taken on Feb 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles. Dawn observed Ceres for a full rotation which lasts about nine hours. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/ID

Cool Thing About Ceres:

–Ceres was first spotted in 1801 by Sicilian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi.

–Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt and was first classified as a planet… then, later it was called an asteroid. Then even later still, because of its planet-like qualities, in 2006 Ceres was designated a dwarf planet along with Pluto and Eris. Much bitching and complaining then ensued.

–Ceres is named for the Roman goddess of agriculture and harvests. Piazzi originally wanted to call it Cerere Ferdinandea, after the Roman goddess and King Ferdinand IV of Sicily, but this generally pissed people off, particularly the Germans and Greeks, and much bitching and complaining then ensued.

–Ceres is described as an ‘embryonic planet’, not a full-fledged planet. Why? Freaking Jupiter. Gravitational perturbations from the hefty gas giant billions of years ago prevented Ceres from becoming a proper planet.

–One day on Ceres is about nine hours long, and a year, or the time it take for Ceres to make a complete orbit around the Sun, is about 4.60 Earth years.

–Ceres is approximately 590 miles across, and comprises 25 percent of the asteroid belt’s total mass.

–In Jan 2014, the European Space Agency announced that its Herschel Space Observatory had discovered water vapor around Ceres. This mark the first definitive detection of water vapor around an object in the asteroid belt. How cool that Dawn was already on the way to check this out!

To learn more about Dawn, Ceres (both the dwarf planet and the goddess), the asteroid belt, those mysterious bright spots, water vapor spewing, or what xenon fuel smells like…in the morning, check out this video from the folks at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who, unlike me, actually know what they’re talking about!


Artist’s illustration of dwarf planet Ceres located in the main asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Image Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Live Long And Prosper

Leonard Nimoy – 1931-2015

When I was a kid my brother and I had to share a TV (Oh, the horror!). We had an elaborate system worked out to determine who would have control of the TV at which time. There was one time-slot, above all others, that my brother would trade anything for, and I do mean anything. 6pm to 7pm, weekdays. This was the time for Star Trek reruns. It didn’t matter how many times my brother had seen a given episode, he wanted to watch it again. And I exploited this…big time. Money, toys, chores, forcing him to play games he hated, nothing was off the trading table for that time-slot. Little did my brother know that I loved Star Trek every bit as much as he did and I also couldn’t wait to watch another episode, no matter how many times I’d seen it. One of the reasons I loved it so much, I mean other than space travel and star ships, was Mr Spock.


Thank you, Mr Nimoy, for making weird cool. LLAP


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