Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Tracking the stars -- and Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

11-11-2009 11:09 CST

Topics: pretty pictures, explaining technology, Earth

This was a neat photo from ESA today. Pretty much every single spacecraft carries one or more "star trackers," cameras or sensors designed to provide information on the spacecraft's position and orientation based upon the observed positions of known stars. Even after millennia of technological development, we still rely upon celestial navigation! This photo comes from a new-generation star tracker of very small mass (less than half a kilogram) on an ESA spacecraft designed to test new technologies. The photo, which of course includes stars, also serendipitously contains the curve of Earth and its thin, hazy atmosphere, the bubble in which all known life breathes.

Proba-2 star tracker image

Proba-2 star tracker image
Proba-2 is the second in a series of miniature satellites launched by ESA to serve as a platform for testing new space technologies. This photo was captured by Proba-2's "Micro-Advanced Stellar Compass" or star tracker; this advanced instrument, a critical component for spacecraft navigation, has a mass of less than half a kilogram. The image captures a view across Earth's limb, seeing its thin atmosphere.

More information here. Thanks to Daniel Fischer for the link.

 
See other posts from November 2009

 

Or read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, explaining technology, Earth

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Essential Advocacy

Our Advocacy Program 
provides each Society member 
a voice in the process.



Funding is critical. The more 
we have, the more effective 
we can be, translating into more 
missions, more science, 
and more exploration.

Donate

Featured Images

Paceman Nebula (NGC 281)
Blue WISE Pleiades
The vicinity of Lambda Cephei
Beagle 2 departing Mars Express
More Images

Featured Video

The Planetary Post - James Webb Space Telescope

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!