ATV Albert Einstein
ATV-4 (Albert Einstein), Europe’s supply and support ferry, docked with the International Space Station last Saturday. This image, taken from the Station, reveals the exhaust plumes as the 20-tonne craft fires some of its 24 thrusters to adjust its approach.
While travelling at 28 000 km/h, the docking was so precise that Albert Einstein was only 11 mm off centre, hitting its target without touching the surrounding docking cone: “A hole in one,” as controllers remarked at the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France.
In this image, ATV-4 is lit by the Sun from behind as its solar cells absorb the Sun’s energy. The golden ‘lights’ are the sunlight shining through the solar panel hinges. The vertical antenna at the top is the ‘proximity boom’ that is used to communicate with the Station.
ATV Albert Einstein has brought 7 tonnes of supplies, propellants and experiments to the complex.
- Most dry cargo launched in any European spacecraft (2 501 kg)
- Heaviest spacecraft ever lifted by any Ariane rocket (20 235 kg)
(see link below for the full factsheet)
Mars Rover Opportunity
Approaching its 10th anniversary of leaving Earth, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is on the move again, trekking to a new study area still many weeks away.
The destination, called "Solander Point," offers Opportunity access to a much taller stack of geological layering than the area where the rover has worked for the past 20 months, called "Cape York." Both areas are raised segments of the western rim of Endeavour Crater, which is about 22 kilometers in diameter.
Solander Point also offers plenty of ground that is tilted toward the north, which is favorable for the solar-powered rover to stay active and mobile through the coming Martian southern-hemisphere winter.
Spirit ceased operations during its fourth Martian winter, in 2010. Opportunity shows symptoms of aging, such as loss of motion in some joints, but continues to accomplish groundbreaking exploration and science.