sci21015 — Announcement

Success of the ESASky & ESA/Hubble Outreach Collaboration

29 December 2021

 -By Mahdi Zamani, Bethany Downer, and Bruno Merín -

We are so pleased to announce that in 2021 the ESA/Hubble and ESASky team started a collaboration that brings the spectacular Hubble images featured on the ESA/Hubble website to the ESASky application.

ESASky is a web-based app that helps users to interact with outreach astronomical images and datasets taken in different bands of light, obtained by ESA missions. As this collaboration sought to harness this unique educational tool to engage with a broader audience, users who are interested in the more detailed science behind Hubble’s wide variety of breathtaking images can now also enjoy data-driven tools in ESASky! This includes finding Hubble's science-ready archival datasets used in the public outreach images, or overlaying ESA's Gaia catalogue on top of a cluster image taken by Hubble to better understand the movements and characteristics of stars in a given cluster. The ESA/Hubble outreach image pages now link to the appropriate locations on the ESASky portal.

Following the release of the latest version of ESASky with this new feature, the number of users on the platform increased significantly (+29%) compared to the previous month’s usage. On the release date, the platform saw over three times as many users as on the previous day. The most popular image explored during the month of November on the platform was the Eagle Nebula.

This initiative was one of the most rewarding undertakings for the ESA/Hubble outreach team in 2021. Hubble images are known for their beauty, fine detail, and resolution; however, assuring the quality of the outreach images was preserved once they were imported into the ESASky app turned out to be a challenge of its own. An alternative tiling solution called "OpenSeadragon '' was adopted by ESASky in addition to the conventional HiPS solution used as the based tiling mechanism. The creative combination of the two solutions now enables users in ESASky to zoom-in and enjoy the finest details of the ESA/Hubble outreach images whilst comparing them to the background survey imagery of their choosing. 

The ESA/Hubble outreach image archive includes more than 2000 mesmerizing observation images of celestial objects outside our Solar System that have been fully tagged with coordinate metadata by the ESA/Hubble team over the years. All of them can now also be enjoyed in the freely accessible ESASky virtual planetarium. 

Science teachers and educators can now also use Hubble outreach images in ESASky in their virtual classrooms to take their students on a virtual cosmic tour. This is somewhat similar to a planetarium presentation, but with the celestial objects of their choosing and breathtaking Hubble images.

Scientists looking for Hubble's archival science-ready data of their target objects in ESASky can also determine if there has been an outreach image of given objects released by ESA/Hubble. These can be used in public talks, journal papers, or press releases related to their results.

Future outreach images published by ESA/Hubble will also be integrated into the ESASky platform.


Bethany Downer
ESA/Hubble Chief Science Communications Officer

About the Announcement



Announcement of the ESA/Hubble and ESA Sky Collaboration
Announcement of the ESA/Hubble and ESA Sky Collaboration

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