Tag: ESA

Philae Lander Returns Wealth of Comet Data

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Philae landing sequence (Credit: DLR)

Philae landing sequence (Credit: DLR)

DLR PR – Before going into hibernation at 01:36 CET on 15 November 2014, the Philae lander was able to conduct some work using power supplied by its primary battery. With its 10 instruments, the mini laboratory sniffed the atmosphere, drilled, hammered and studied Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko while over 500 million kilometres from Earth. After a triple landing, positioning it in a new, unplanned location, conditions were not optimal, but Philae was able to work for more than 60 hours and send the resulting data back to Earth. It was controlled and monitored from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Lander Control Center (LCC). Now, the complicated data analysis begins. DLR’s Scientific Director for the project, Ekkehard Kührt, is very pleased with the results so far. “We have collected a great deal of valuable data, which could only have been acquired through direct contact with the comet. Together with the measurements performed by the Rosetta orbiter, we are well on our way to achieving a greater understanding of comets. Their surface properties appear to be quite different than was previously thought.”

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ESA to Abandon Ariane 5 Upgrade, Move Directly to Ariane 6

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Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Space News reports on Europe’s plans for a new launch vehicle to replace Ariane 5:

The German government has agreed to drop its demand that Europe develop a long-planned upgrade of today’s Ariane 5 rocket and instead proceed with a new-generation Ariane 6 that borrows heavily on Ariane 5 technology, Germany’s space minister said.

The decision ends an impasse that has bedeviled the European Space Agency for more than two years as it prepares for a Dec. 2 conference of its governments.

While noting that certain funding details and a clarification of industry’s risk-taking guarantee remain to be ironed out, Brigitte Zypries said Germany and France now agree to back Ariane 6 and to scrap the Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (ME) rocket that European governments have been developing for several years.

“We have found a compromise that is OK for both countries, for the other participating states and also for industry,” Zypries said in a Nov. 15 emailed response to SpaceNews questions. “The important elements are the joint intention to develop a new launcher as part of a concept based mainly on Ariane 5 ME technology and Vega, and a new launcher governance.”

Read the full story.

Airbus to Build Orion Service Module

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BERLIN, Germany — Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second space company, has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the development and construction of the service module for Orion, the future American human space capsule. The contract is worth around 390 million euros. The service module will provide propulsion, power supply, thermal control and the central elements of the life support system of the American capsule.

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Pioneering Philae Lander Completes Primary Comet Mission

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Philae's first touchdown seen by Rosetta's NavCam. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Philae’s first touchdown seen by Rosetta’s NavCam. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Rosetta’s lander has completed its primary science mission after nearly 57 hours on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

After being out of communication visibility with the lander since 09:58 GMT / 10:58 CET on Friday, Rosetta regained contact with Philae at 22:19 GMT /23:19 CET last night. The signal was initially intermittent, but quickly stabilised and remained very good until 00:36 GMT / 01:36 CET this morning.

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ESA 3D Printer Set for Installation Aboard Space Station

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Funded by the Italian space agency ASI, the POP3D (Portable On-Board Printer) for 3D printing will reach orbit in 2015 as part of ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti’s Futura mission. (Credit: Altran)

Funded by the Italian space agency ASI, the POP3D (Portable On-Board Printer) for 3D printing will reach orbit in 2015 as part of ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti’s Futura mission. (Credit: Altran)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Europe’s very first 3D printer in space is scheduled for installation aboard the ISS next year.

Designed and built in Italy, it will be put to the test as part as ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti’s Futura mission, and is set to reach orbit in the first half of next year. Samantha herself will be launched on her six-month Station assignment on 23 November.

“The POP3D Portable On-Board Printer is a small 3D printer that requires very limited power and crew involvement to operate,” explained Luca Enrietti of Altran, prime contractor for the compact printer.

The unit is a cube with 25 cm sides and prints with biodegradable and harmless plastic using a heat-based process.

“Part of the challenge of designing a 3D printer for the Station was to ensure its operation does not affect the crew environment,” added Giorgio Musso of Thales Alenia Space Italy, principal investigator for the project.

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ESA Makes History By Landing on a Comet

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Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera captured this parting shot of the Philae lander after separation. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera captured this parting shot of the Philae lander after separation. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Rosetta mission has soft-landed its Philae probe on a comet, the first time in history that such an extraordinary feat has been achieved.

After a tense wait during the seven-hour descent to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the signal confirming the successful touchdown arrived on Earth at 16:03 GMT (17:03 CET).

The confirmation was relayed via the Rosetta orbiter to Earth and picked up simultaneously by ESA’s ground station in Malargüe, Argentina and NASA’s station in Madrid, Spain. The signal was immediately confirmed at ESA’s Space Operations Centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, and DLR’s Lander Control Centre in Cologne, both in Germany.

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ESA to Land on Comet on Wednesday

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 Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 3 August from a distance of 285 km. The image resolution is 5.3 metres/pixel. (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 3 August from a distance of 285 km. The image resolution is 5.3 metres/pixel. (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — On 12 November, Rosetta’s Philae probe is set to make the first-ever landing on a comet when it touches down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Separation of the lander is planned for about 09:03 GMT (10:03 CET), and touch down should follow about seven hours later, at 16:02 GMT (17:02 CET).

Follow this historic event via live updates posted in the following channels:

Webcast will begin 19:00 GMT (20:00 CET) 11 November and continue (with pauses) to cover crucial mission milestones overnight on Tuesday and through Wednesday. Check the ESA TV schedule here for detailed times.

Updated with news and information direct from the mission operations and science teams.

All channels and webpages, including the Twitter, Rosetta Facebook and ESA Flickr social media accounts, are linked from the main Rosetta mission page: http://rosetta.esa.int

Vega Launch of ESA’s Experimental Space Plane Delayed

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PARIS (ESA PR) — The Vega launch of ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, due on 18 November from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, has been postponed to allow for additional analyses of the Vega flight trajectory.

For this mission, instead of heading north into a polar orbit, as on previous flights, Vega will head eastwards to release the spaceplane into a suborbital path reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean to test new technologies for future autonomous controlled reentry for return missions.

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J Marks the Spot for Rosetta’s Philae Comet Lander

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Philae’s primary landing site. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

Philae’s primary landing site. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

PARIS (ESA PR) – Rosetta’s lander Philae will target Site J, an intriguing region on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that offers unique scientific potential, with hints of activity nearby, and minimum risk to the lander compared to the other candidate sites.

Site J is on the ‘head’ of the comet, an irregular shaped world that is just over 4 km across at its widest point. The decision to select Site J as the primary site was unanimous. The backup, Site C, is located on the ‘body’ of the comet.

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Satellite Operators Tell ESA to Stop Bickering, Move Fast on Building Ariane 6

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Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Space News reports that European satellite fleet operators want ESA to move forward quickly with building an Ariane 5 successor:

A group including the world’s largest commercial satellite fleet operators has written the European Space Agency urging that it approve a new-generation Ariane 6 in time for a first launch in 2019 or face relegating the European rocket to commercial also-ran status.

The letter to ESA Director Jean-Jacques Dordain makes clear that these fleet operators have a ho-hum view of the Ariane 5 ME vehicle that ESA governments are weighing alongside a new-generation Ariane 6.

Given the advent of electric propulsion and the dramatic launch-cost reduction offered by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the operators say, the new Ariane 6 needs to be in service by 2019 or face the risk that Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium will be permanently sidelined.

The letter was signed by six members of the European Satellite Operators Association. Signatories included the chief executives of Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, Hispasat and HellasSat.

That’s a pretty weighty group. Maybe it will break the impasse over what to do next.

Ariane 5 ME is an interim step that would allow the Ariane 5 to carry heavier payloads. The launch vehicle carries one large communications satellite and a lighter one.