NASA Statement on Possible Subsurface Lake near Martian South Pole

Detecting buried water with radar. (Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL/ASI/Univ. Rome; R. Orosei et al 2018)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A new paper published in Science this week suggests that liquid water may be sitting under a layer of ice at Mars’ south pole.

The finding is based on data from the European Mars Express spacecraft, obtained by a radar instrument called MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding). The Italian Space Agency (ASI) led the development of the MARSIS radar. NASA provided half of the instrument, with management of the U.S. portion led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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Mars Express Detects Liquid Water Beneath Planet’s South Pole

Mars Express detects water buried under the south pole of Mars. (Credit: Context map: NASA/Viking; THEMIS background: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University; MARSIS data: ESA/NASA/JPL/ASI/Univ. Rome; R. Orosei et al 2018)

PARIS, 25 July 2018 (ESA PR) — Radar data collected by ESA’s Mars Express point to a pond of liquid water buried under layers of ice and dust in the south polar region of Mars.

Evidence for the Red Planet’s watery past is prevalent across its surface in the form of vast dried-out river valley networks and gigantic outflow channels clearly imaged by orbiting spacecraft. Orbiters, together with landers and rovers exploring the martian surface, also discovered minerals that can only form in the presence of liquid water.

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What Would You 3D Print on the Moon to Make it Feel Like Home?

3D printed food produced by the TNO research centre in the Netherlands, a member of the URBAN consortium investigating 3D printing in support of a lunar base. (Credit: TNO/URBAN)

PARIS, 20 July 2018 (ESA PR) — A new ESA-led project is investigating the ways that 3D printing could be used to create and run a habitat on the Moon. Everything from building materials to solar panels, equipment and tools to clothes, even nutrients and food ingredients can potentially be 3D printed. But if you were headed to the Moon, what would you want to 3D print, to turn a lunar base into a place that feels like home? Tell us your idea, to win a chance of actually getting it printed.

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Name Europe’s Mars Rover Competition

ESA’s Exo Mars Rover (Credit: ESA)

FARNBOROUGH, UK — 20 July 2018 (ESA PR) — The UK Space Agency has launched a competition to name a rover that is going to Mars to search for signs of life.Due to launch in 2020, the UK-built rover is part of ESA’s ExoMars mission. It will investigate how Mars has evolved and whether there may be conditions for life.

The ExoMars rover will be the first of its kind to travel across the martian surface and drill down to determine if evidence of life is buried underground, protected from the Sun’s radiation that bombards the surface of the ‘Red Planet’.

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Seeing Titan with Infrared Eyes

The moon Titan in infrared. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stéphane Le Mouélic, University of Nantes, Virginia Pasek, University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL/Caltech PR) — These six infrared images of Saturn’s moon Titan represent some of the clearest, most seamless-looking global views of the icy moon’s surface produced so far. The views were created using 13 years of data acquired by the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument on board NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The images are the result of a focused effort to smoothly combine data from the multitude of different observations VIMS made under a wide variety of lighting and viewing conditions over the course of Cassini’s mission.

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Goonhilly Unveils Roadmap for Commercial Space Communications, Exploration & More

Highlights:

  • Goonhilly to launch new services thanks to recent £32.4 million in investment and contract wins
  • Space and satellite industries, video service providers, enterprises and universities to benefit from new applications on Earth, in near space and deep space
  • Expansion plans include facilities in US and Australia to support deep space ambitions
  • Green data centre will offer co-location with satellite, sub-sea cable and fibre connectivity

CORNWALL, UK (Goonhilly Earth Station PR) — Satellite communications innovator and space gateway, Goonhilly Earth Station, today launched its roadmap and outlined developments which will galvanise its position in the satellite industry and place it firmly at the vanguard of the new space economy driven by private investment and solid growth performance. With the agility of a start-up yet with many science and technology firsts under its belt, this roadmap underpins the firm’s ambition to become a world-leading space connectivity nexus and centre of innovation.

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ESA Issues Call for Ideas on Future Space Transportation


PARIS, 16 July 2018 (ESA PR) —
ESA is calling for ideas that will shape the future of space transportation services – to space, in space and returning from space.

“The changing world we live in requires a space agency to anticipate. Now is the time for ESA to reach out to our citizens in the Member States and listen to their ideas and take them on board Europe’s greatest adventure,” commented Jan Wörner, ESA Director General.

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Video of First Hot Fire of P120C Motor for Vega-C and Ariane 6

Video Caption: The hot firing of the development model of the P120C solid fuel rocket motor at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 16 July 2018, proves the design for use on Vega-C next year and on Ariane 6 from 2020.

The P120C is 13.5 m long and 3.4 m in diameter, and uses solid fuel in a case made of carbon composite material built in a single segment.

It will replace the current P80 as the first stage motor of Vega-C. Two or four P120Cs will be strapped onto Ariane 6 as boosters for liftoff.

This test was a collaboration between ESA, France’s CNES space agency, and Europropulsion under contract to Avio and ArianeGroup.

Learn more: http://bit.ly/HotFiringProvesSolidRoc…

Successful First Test Firing of P120C SRB for Ariane 6 and Vega-C

P120C awaits first hot firing. (Credit: ESA)
  • A successful test firing of 135 seconds conducted on the BEAP test bench in Kourou, French Guiana
  • P120C – the largest monolithic carbon-fiber solid rocket motor (SRM) in the world – is loaded with 142 tons of propellant
  • P120C will equip the boosters of both Ariane 62 and Ariane 64 and the Vega-C first stage ; 35 motors to be produced annually

KOUROU, French Guiana (Avio PR) — The P120C was successfully tested on 13 July in Kourou, French Guiana, on the BEAP test bench for solid rocket motors, operated by the French space agency CNES. This successful test of the first P120C ever produced is a major step in the development of the future European launchers, Ariane 6 and Vega-C.

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Orbex Secures $39.6 Million to Develop Orbital Launch System

Prime rocket launch from Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild)

Farnborough, UK, July 16, 2018 (Orbex PR) — Orbex has announced that it has secured £30 million ($39.6 million) in public and private funding for the development of orbital space launch systems. Orbex will launch orbital vehicles from the newly-announced UK Vertical Launch spaceport in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands as part of the main consortium.

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Europe’s New ISS Commercial Research Facility Inaugurates Service

ICE Cubes in Columbus (Credit: ESA/NASA)

SINT-STEVENS-WOLUWE, Belgium — 13 July 2018 (ESA PR) — Europe’s new commercial research facility on the International Space Station, called ICE Cubes or International Commercial Experiments Service, is inaugurating its new service today with a special event in Belgium. With the first experiments installed, the service is ready to perform operations in orbit.

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UK Government Lays Out Future Cooperation with EU in Space After Brexit

The European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) is ESA’s facility in the United Kingdom. It is based at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. (Credit: Harwell Campus)

With the United Kingdom (UK) now negotiating its withdrawal from the European Union (EU), the government has published a plan for how the two governments can continue to work together across a broad range of areas after Brexit.

While the UK can remain a full member of the European Space Agency without being a member of the EU, a number of disruptions could occur across the space and aerospace sector. Continued British participation in the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system and the Copernicus Earth observation program are  key areas of concern.

Below are excerpts from the report covering possible cooperation in space and in the harmonization of standards in aerospace manufacturing. (Emphasis mine)

The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union

Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister
by Command of Her Majesty
July 2018

Full Report

Selected Excerpts

2.4.6 Space

91. The UK and the EU are both reliant on access to space technologies for national resilience and military capabilities, and to reduce vulnerability to threats such as hacking and severe space weather.

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ESA, EIB Cooperate on Increasing Investments in European Space Sector

PARIS — 10 July 2018 (ESA PR) — Today Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), welcomed Jan Wörner, Director General of ESA, to sign a Joint Statement on behalf of the two organisations.

The Joint Statement puts forth the intention of the two organisations to cooperate on supporting increased investment in the European space sector, thus helping create a level playing field for European companies to grow and become globally competitive. It also supports setting the foundations for Europe’s engagement in Space 4.0 and new space.

“I am very pleased to enhance a fruitful collaboration with ESA, raising awareness for investors, while improving access to finance for promoters in the space sector,” said the EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle.

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Airbus Wins Two ESA Studies for Mars Sample Return Mission

Mars in opposition. [(Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute) ]

Sample Fetch Rover to retrieve cached samples on Mars
Earth Return Orbiter to capture the samples and return them to Earth

STEVENAGE/TOULOUSE (Airbus PR) – Airbus has won two studies from the European Space Agency (ESA) to design a Sample Fetch Rover and an Earth Return Orbiter. These two elements will be critical parts of a mission to return samples of the planet Mars to Earth before the end of the next decade. NASA and ESA signed a letter of intent in April 2018 to pursue a Mars Sample Return mission.

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Largest Ever Solid Rocket Motor Set for First Hot Fire

P120C awaits first hot firing. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana – 9 July 2018 (ESA PR) — This week, the largest solid rocket motor ever built in one piece will be test fired at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana for the first time.

This important milestone validates the booster for use on Vega-C next year and on Ariane 6 from 2020.

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