Category ESA

ATV-5 launch campaign (timelapse)

This time-lapse video shows the ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre loading process and its integration on the Ariane 5 launcher before its transfer and launch to the International Space Station from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 29 July 2014.

 

 

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Galileo satellites experience orbital injection anomaly on Soyuz launch Initial report

On August 22, 2014, at 9:27 am local time in French Guiana, a Soyuz ST rocket lifted off with the first two satellites in the Galileo constellation.
The liftoff and first part of the mission proceeded nominally, leading to release of the satellites according to the planned timetable, and reception of signals from the satellites. It was only a certain time after the separation of the satellites that the ongoing analysis of the data provided by the telemetry stations operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency CNES showed that the satellites were not in the expected orbit.

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Launch of Europe’s fifth and six Galileo satellites

On 22 August, at 12:27 GMT/14:27 CEST, a Soyuz rocket launched Europe’s fifth and six Galileo satellites from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Rewatch the moment of launch here. These new satellites joined four Galileo satellites already in orbit, launched in October 2011 and October 2012 respectively. This first quartet were ‘In-Orbit Validation’ satellites, serving to demonstrate the Galileo system would function as planned.

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Releasing Cygnus (timelapse)

Timelapse showing the Orbital Science’s Cygnus Orb-2 spacecraft departing from the International Space Station on 15 August 2014. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst set up a camera to shoot a series of photographs whilst he and his Expedition 40 colleague NASA’s Reid Wiseman operated the Station’s robotic arm to manoeuvre the visiting cargo spacecraft into position for release.  A couple of days later, Cygnus Orb-2 burnt up in Earth’s atmosphere during a destructive reentry.

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Galactic bubble

The Galactic bubble

Nestled within the shell around this large bubble is an embryonic star that is already a hefty eight times more massive than our Sun.

This image, by ESA’s Herschel space observatory, was originally presented in the first announcement of scientific results  from the mission in May 2010.

This week Herschel scientists will meet again at ESA’s ESTEC establishment in the Netherlands to present, discuss, and take stock of the scientific breakthroughs of the entire mission at The Universe Explored by Herschel symposium.

The Galactic bubble shown in this image was just one of many surprising results of the mission.

It is about 4300 light-years away and has been blown by a star at its centre...

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GOCE completes mission

GOCE in orbit

After nearly tripling its planned lifetime, the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer – GOCE – is nearing its end of mission and will soon reenter our atmosphere.

With a sleek, aerodynamic design responsible for it being dubbed the ‘Ferrari of space’, GOCE has mapped variations in Earth’s gravity with extreme detail. Scientists further exploited these data to create the first global high-resolution map of the boundary between Earth’s crust and mantle – called the Moho – and to detect sound waves from the massive earthquake that hit Japan on 11 March 2011, among other results.

In mid-October, the mission will come to a natural end when it runs out of fuel and the satellite begins its descent towards Earth from a height of about 224 km.

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ESA’s test rover begins exploring Atacama Desert

SAFER rover's first tracks in Atacama Desert

ESA’s test rover has been fitted with scientific instruments  and made its first tracks in the sands of Chile’s Atacama Desert. Meanwhile, team members have explored the area to select a suitable site for testing, flying a drone to produce an aerial map.

This week’s Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover, or SAFER, field trial is gaining experience in remotely operating a Mars rover prototype equipped with scientific instruments.

ESA has assembled an international industrial team for the trial, which takes place in the Mars-like Atacama, one of the driest places on Earth.

“During the past few days we have been busy preparing for the actual trial,” explains Michel van Winnendael, overseeing the testing for ESA...

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ESA and NASA stumped by cosmic mystery

Malargüe station today

A mystery that has stumped scientists for decades might be one step closer to solution after ESA tracking stations carefully record signals from NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it swings by Earth today.

NASA’s deep-space probe will zip past to within 561 km at 19:21 GMT as it picks up a gravitational speed boost to help it reach Jupiter in 2016.

During the high-speed event, radio signals from the 3225 kg Juno will be carefully recorded by ESA tracking stations in Argentina and Australia.

Engineers hope that the new measurements will unravel the decades-old ‘flyby anomaly’ – an unexplained variation in spacecraft speeds detected during some swingbys.

“We detected the flyby anomaly during Rosetta’s first Earth visit in March 2005,” says Trevor Morley, flight dynamics expert at ESA’s ESOC...

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Dragon lights

Lisboa

The favourite pastime of many astronauts on the International Space Station is gazing at the beauty of their home planet. They often remark that it is difficult to pinpoint cities or other manmade features during daytime as they circle Earth at 28 800 km/h.

Wait until night, however, and the lights in our cities stand out sharply from the blackness of the sea and countryside.

The lights we turn on in our houses at night and the lights we use to illuminate public areas also shine upwards, revealing where humans have settled on our planet. NASA astronaut Don Pettit said that each city shows a characteristic ‘signature’ at night, with motorways and airports clearly marked out.

Here, the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon, is shown with south at the top of the image...

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Cook a comet demo

Cook a comet demo

Yesterday, thousands of visitors to ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands enjoyed learning more about ESA space missions, including Rosetta – the daring spacecraft that will rendezvous with a comet next year.

Rosetta has been in deep-space hibernation since June 2011 while on the loneliest leg of its 10-year journey through space to its destination: comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The spacecraft will wake up early next year and rendezvous with its target comet several months later, taking images of its dust–ice nucleus and studying the gases jetting from the surface. It will be the first mission to follow a comet as it moves towards the Sun, watching as its activity changes over time.

In November 2014, Rosetta will deploy its Philae lander to the surface of the comet for an even cl...

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