Tag Archives: European Space Agency

No Borders in Space: An Astronaut’s Perspective of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

A German astronaut named Alexander Gerst recently created a lot of online attention earlier this week with a picture he posted of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from space.

These photos were taken from the International Space Station as it flew over Israel last week. Below is the image that went viral, getting over 39,000 re-tweets after Gerst posted it on Twitter.

As you can see, from space, borders are indistinguishable…

Gerst also added that the crew could actually see the rocket explosions as they passed over the region at night.

Gerst, a German astronaut is still currently aboard the International Space Station with American Reid Wiseman and Russian Maxim Suarev.

The crew has had some fun since they departed Earth on May 28th, even playing some zero gravity soccer and making friendly wagers on the recent World Cup.

But the mood has become a bit more somber with the end of the Cup and the resurgence of the conflict in the Middle East.

In a blog post he wrote for the European Space Agency’s website, Gerst gave insight into the astronauts’ perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His introduction is very powerful:

“Some things that on Earth we see in the news every day and thus almost tend to accept as a ‘given,’ appear very different from our perspective. We do not see any borders from space.

We just see a unique planet with a thin, fragile atmosphere, suspended in a vast and hostile darkness. From up here it is crystal clear that on Earth we are one humanity, we eventually all share the same fate.

What came to my mind at the time of this photo was, if we ever will be visited by another species from somewhere in the universe, how would we explain to them what they might see as the very first thing when they look at our planet?

How would we explain to them the way we humans treat not only each other but also our fragile blue planet, the only home we have? I do not have an answer for that.”

Watch Astronauts Play Soccer and Do Goal Celebrations in Zero Gravity on the ISS (Video)

The World Cup is in full swing, with billions of people tuning in to watch the games all over the planet. But there are also a couple of guys watching the world’s largest sporting event from space.

To commemorate the start of the tournament, NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman and Steve Swanson joined German astronaut Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency to create this awesome video of them practicing some moves in zero-G.

Then yesterday they released this video of their best goal celebrations:

This is the second World Cup that astronauts have viewed from the International Space Station (they also tuned in for the 2010 Cup). It’s pretty fitting that the astronauts are watching a tournament that brings together countries from all over the world- the ISS itself was built by five different space agencies representing 15 different countries.

The German and American astronauts actually made a bet over yesterday’s game: if the U.S. won, they could draw a U.S. flag on Gerst’s bald head. But if the U.S. lost, both the American’s had to shave their heads. I hope Gerst isn’t rubbing in that German win too much though.

(h/t Space.com)

Rosetta Spacecraft Awakes From Hibernation and Prepares for Mankind’s FIRST EVER COMET LANDING (Video)

Rosetta is a spacecraft that was launched in 2004 by the European Space Agency with aid from NASA. Rosetta’s mission is to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, orbit the comet, and launch and land a robot lander called Philae onto the comet. If the launch and landing for robot lander Philae are successful, Philae will be the first ever controlled landing on a comet.

Rosetta has been in hibernation since November and has recently been awoken successfully (turned back on) and is now expected to rendezvous with its nearby target — Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — in May, and then enter orbit around the icy body (Comet) in August. Check Out the video below to see the journey that Rosetta has experienced through our Solar System so far.


If all goes well, Rosetta will release a piggyback probe — Philae — in November. Philae will study comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko up close with its 10 science instruments, one of which is a drill that will snag samples up to 8 inches beneath the comet’s surface.

Below is a video animation of the expected upcoming Philae landing.


The studies will be the first of their kind considering we have never landed on a comet before. This mission has high expectations and will hopefully bring in priceless information about comets, the origin of our solar system, and possibly more of the origin of life.

Rosetta is named for the Rosetta Stone, a block of black basalt that was inscribed with a royal decree in three languages — Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian Demotic and Greek. The spacecraft’s robotic lander is called Philae, named after a similarly inscribed obelisk found on an island in the Nile River. Both the stone and the obelisk were key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Scientists hope the mission will provide a key to many questions about the origins of the solar system and, perhaps, life on Earth.” -According to Space.com

Check Out the full story here on Space.com

Camera That Can Detect the Width of a Human Hair From 620 Miles Away (Billion-Pixel)

A billion-pixel camera was attached to the Gaia space telescope that was launched earlier this month. This telescope is now so sensitive that it can measure a person’s thumbnail from the Moon, or to put it another way, detect the width of a human hair from 620 miles away. And no this telescope is not going to be used by the government to spy on you (at least I don’t think so). 

According to CNN

Scientists hope to glean more clues about the origin and evolution of the universe, and in particular our own galaxy, after a camera of this incredible scale — fitted to the Gaia space telescope — was launched Thursday (Dec. 19).”


The Gaia space telescope lifted off from French Guiana this month on December 19th and it’s main task is mapping the Milky Way and and a quarter of a million objects in our own solar system (including comets and asteroids) like never before. The camera was designed and built by Astrium for the European Space Agency and is the most sensitive telescope to ever be launched into Space. 

The spacecraft, camera, and telescope are said to cost $549 million to build, but the total cost of the mission will come to around $1.02 billion when the expense of the launch and running the mission for its projected five-year lifetime are included.

Check Out the full story here.


Crazy Alien Landscape?? Nope, This Is Good Ol’ Planet Earth

Crazy Alien Landscape?? Nope, This Is Good Ol' Planet Earth

This is a satellite image of the Namib Desert which stretches 1,200+ miles along the Atlantic coast in southern Africa.

For more information and more awesome satellite images of deserts around the world check out this link: