First public images of BepiColombo

By J. Zender, M. Bentley & S. Martínez

Three miniaturized micro-cameras are mounted within the BepiColombo Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) to image some movable devices of the BepiColombo spacecraft stack during its cruise phase, i.e. the solar arrays, magnetometer boom during its deployment, or the high-gain and medium-gain antenna. It is also planned to make some nice shots during the Earth, Venus, and Mercury flybys.
The three cameras are off-the-shelf micro-cameras, connected by a single control unit. The cameras have been provided by Micro-Cameras and Space Exploration SA, Neuchatel, Switzerland. The figure below provides an impression of the miniaturization achieved. The cameras are now operated by ESA's Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, under the lead of the BepiColombo Project Scientist.


All camera data are now processed automatically and made available within the Planetary Science Archive (PSA). The data can be freely accessed one week after they are downloaded from the spacecraft. It is thus possible for everybody to download the data and analyze the spacecraft structures in the field-of-view of the cameras. As an example, the reader can find above a gif-animation of MCAM3 images acquired from launch until mid-June.
Go to this page for information on the location of the cameras. There is also a tool where people can visualise simulated camera views, as well as seeing where the spacecraft is pointing.
Images: ESA/BepiColombo SOC

New datasets and enhanced data discovery with ESASky 3.2

By B. López Martí, on behalf of the ESASky team

We are happy to announce that ESASky 3.2 was released on November 15, 2019. This new version comes with a bunch of exciting new functionalities and new data.
Surely, the most interesting feature for our science users is the possibility to access data from external servers via an external Table Access Protocol (TAP) functionality. For now, this allows users to access data provided by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the Canadian Astronomy Data Center (CADC) and the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) in their TAP servers, including images, spectra, data cubes and time series data. It must be noted that these data, contrary to those offered via the images, spectra and catalogues functionalities, have not been curated by the ESASky team. We plan to expand this functionality to include data from any external TAP of user's choice.
In addition to the data accessible via this new feature, the ESASky data offer has been enhanced with several new datasets: A new version (v 4.1) of the XMM-SUSS catalogue; the AKARI IRC Point Source Catalogue v1.0 and all AKARI/IRC imaging observations, which can be downloaded directly from DARTS/JAXA; and the LAMOST DR5 catalogue. Access to this latter catalogue has been added in collaboration with the Chinese Virtual Observatory. The ESASky Hierarchical Progressive Survey (HiPS) all-sky map collection has also increased with the inclusion of a new AKARI IRC HiPS map generated by our JAXA colleagues.
This new ESASky version also features an improved publications search functionality, as well as the possibility to search for sources by author name or bibcode, a slider to move between the different HiPS maps in a stack, and the possibility to overlay a coordinate grid on top of the field-of-view.
This video shows an overview of all the new functionalities and data. For more details on this release, refer to the release notes and to the general ESASky documentation.
Images: ESA/ESDC

Gaia Archive upgraded to new version

By T. Roegiers
Gaia Archive

On November 14, 2019, the Gaia Archive was upgraded to a new version of the Archive software (version 2.7). Please be aware that access methods to epoch photometry have been upgraded with minor changes in the output format. Updates in access scripts will be needed.
The help pages have been updated accordingly. More information can be found in the release notes.
Images: ESA/ESDC

Recent PSA data updates

By B. López Martí

Since mid-September 2019, many new and improved datasets have been delivered to the Planetary Science Archive (PSA). In addition to BepiColombo first public MTM camera images, Rosetta and Mars Express have also continued with their regular deliveries.

The Rosetta datasets include:

The Mars Express data deliveries are the following:

Images: ESA

Fourth meeting of the Astronomy Archives User Group

By D. Baines

The Astronomy Archives User Group (AAUG) held their fourth meeting on October 14-15, 2019, in ESTEC, The Netherlands. Topics under discussion included possible ways of promoting the archives and supporting early career scientists, for example, via a visitor programme; the results from the recent Astronomy Archive User Survey; feedback from the ESA Astronomy Archives lunchtime session at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) this year and plans for a similar session in next year's EAS (EWASS) meeting. A presentation was also given by ESAC colleagues on the latest developments regarding an ESA Science Exploitation Platform, called ESA Datalabs. 
Further information, including the minutes of the meeting and the AAUG recommendations, will be provided soon on the AAUG web page.
Images: Pixabay/ESDC

ESDC activities on the ESA Open Day at ESAC

By B. López Martí
ESA Open Day

The very first ESA Open Day at ESAC took place on Saturday, October 19, 2019. More than 2000 people came to spend the day and learn about ESA and space science.
Visitors were offered many different activities, including guided tours of the site and of the control rooms of the XMM-Newton and SMOS missions, the Galileo Science Support Centre and the ESAC Data Centre (aka the Digital Library of the Universe), where all the ESA science data are physically stored. They had the opportunity to attend the talks given by ESAC personnel, including ESA's Director of Science, Günther Hasinger, on topics related to the activities of the Agency and the science done with its missions, and engage in conversation with astronaut Thomas Reiter, who visited us for the event and was beyond doubt one of the stars of the day.
Families with children could participate in a virtual trip across the Solar System, prepare their own trip to Mars, launch a water rocket or design their own satellite, among other activities. There were as well several exhibitions, telescope observations of the Sun, and a company fair for those people interested in launching their career to space. People also enjoyed taking their own picture onboard the International Space Station or buying souvenirs in the Space Shop.
The ESDC participated with two activities: Científic@ por un día (Scientist for a day) engaged participants into the search for asteroids in two citizen science projects, our Zooniverse project Hubble Asteroid Hunter, relaunched for the occasion with new images from the European HST Archive (EHST), and the NEO Identification project coordinated by our neighbours of the Spanish Virtual Observatory (SVO). With the ESASky Space Bingo, visitors of all ages could win prizes while learning about the different astronomical objects displayed with ESASky.
At the end of the day, exhausted but happy, all Open Day volunteers gathered to celebrate the success of the event with the Director of Science. Given the positive feedback received, we are all looking forward to repeating the experience next year!
Images: ESA/ESDC

Sixth conference on Science with the HST and JWST announced

By A. Nota & P. Ferruit
HST+JWST conference banner

We are excited to announce the sixth conference in the series “Science with the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes - Entering a golden age for UV - Optical - IR Astronomy”, sponsored by ESA in collaboration with the University of Stockholm, to be held in Stockholm, at the Hotel Hasselbacken, from March 30 to April 3, 2020.
Next April, we will celebrate Hubble's 30 splendid years of scientific contributions to all branches of astronomy. At the same time, the countdown is accelerating to the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, planned for March 2021. Webb’s unique combination of sensitivity, near and mid-infrared wavelength coverage and spatial resolution promises to revolutionise our view of the Universe.
In synergy, these two observatories will push the boundaries of knowledge on the backdrop of a rapidly evolving astronomical landscape. In space, Gaia will soon have completed its nominal high-precision astrometric and photometric census of the Milky Way. TESS is already discovering multitudes of exoplanets candidates around the nearest stars, triggering a cascade of follow-up observations. Some of them are already planned on CHEOPS, which will be launched shortly. JWST will then do the spectroscopic follow-up. We are also only a few years away from the launch of Euclid, and its quest to derive the geometry of the Universe. On the ground, ALMA is delivering exciting results and the E-ELT is expected to see first light in 2025, providing follow-up to the first two cycles of JWST observations. The second half of the decade will be further enriched by a suite of major new space missions: WFIRST will probe the expansion of the Universe in the near-infrared, followed by PLATO and ARIEL, detecting and characterising exoplanets, and ATHENA and LISA probing the high-energy Universe.

In this exciting context, the conference will have these goals:

The conference will last 3.5 days, from Monday morning (March 30) to Thursday (April 2) at lunch, included. The scientific programme will be a combination of invited and contributed talks. Contributed talks will be selected from the submitted abstracts.
On Thursday afternoon, a JWST Master Class Workshop will be held, to continue through Friday April 3. Conference participants are encouraged to attend the JWST Master Class Workshop, at no additional cost. The Workshop will provide tools and information to help with the submission of a JWST proposal.
See you all in Stockholm!
Image: STSci & University of Stockholm