Blog about ESA activities.

Mars north pole (Image ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

ESA has published an image of Mars’ northern polar cap. It’s the composition of 32 images captured by the the Mars Express space probe’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) instrument during as many passages above Mars’ north pole between 2004 and 2010. That mosaic shows the polar cap’s spiral-shaped troughs.

Interstellar filaments in Polaris (Image ESA and the SPIRE & PACS consortia, Ph. André (CEA Saclay) for the Gould’s Belt Survey Key Programme Consortium, and A. Abergel (IAS Orsay) for the Evolution of Interstellar Dust Key Programme Consortium)

ESA has published a new picture of the network of interstellar filaments seen by the Herschel Space Observatory in the space around Polaris, the North Star, which is actually a multiple system. For this reason also known as Polaris Flare, it’s an interstellar cloud in which filaments formed in which there are gas and dust visible especially at infrareds.

Adamas Labyrinthus (Photo ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

ESA has published a photograph of a sort of labyrinth that is part of a region called Adamas Labyrinthus on Mars taken by the Mars Express space probe. This region is in turn part of Utopia Planitia, a huge impact basin with an estimated diameter of about 3,300 kilometers. The fractures in Adamas Labyrinthus create a system of polygonal shapes that might have originated from fine-grained sediments that were once at the bottom of an ocean.

Dry ice detected with its spectral data and indication of the area (Image Data: ESA/Rosetta/VIRTIS/INAF-IAPS/OBS DE PARIS-LESIA/DLR; Reprinted with permission from G. Filacchione et al., Science 10.1126/science.aag3161 (2016); context image: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Two articles published in the journal “Science” describe the discovery of dry ice, meaning frozen carbon dioxide, on the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. A team of researchers led by Gianrico Filacchione of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics and another led by Sonia Fornasier the French LESIA-Observatoire de Paris and Université Paris Diderot used the observations conducted with the VIRTIS spectrometer aboard ESA’s Rosetta space probe to find for the first time dry ice on a comet’s nucleus.