News archive

News archive

Just over three years from now, ESA's Huygens probe will separate from the NASA Cassini spacecraft and plunge into the atmosphere of Titan, the largest of Saturn's 30 moons. Far from the tender care of controllers on the Earth, every precaution must be taken to ensure that the risks of failure are minimised.
Published: 14 November 2001
Nature enjoys teasing us. Stars are stars and planets are planets, you may think. In reality it is not as clear-cut as that with the discovery of more and more objects that are neither star nor planet. An Italian team, using observations by ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO, has obtained the first detailed evidence that these ambiguous star-planet 'missing links' form in the same manner as stars, tipping the balance in favour of a stellar origin.
Published: 13 November 2001
Activity on the Sun may be declining after last year's peak, but, as the four Cluster spacecraft can testify, our nearest star can still pack a hefty punch.
Published: 12 November 2001
The world's astronomers are once again queuing up to use XMM-Newton. In fact ESA's X-ray observatory appears to be even more attractive second time around. The response to the second call for proposals has resulted in 870 submissions - more than for the first call prior to its launch in 1999.
Published: 11 November 2001
A major landmark was passed this week in the race to prepare the Rosetta spacecraft for its January 2003 launch from South America. After the successful mating of the two modules that make up ESA's comet chaser, the Rosetta flight model is now ready for transportation to the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. It will then undergo an exhaustive series of tests before shipment to the launch site at the end of summer 2002.
Published: 8 November 2001
A sunspot turns out to be a kind of whirlpool, where hot gas near the Suns surface converges and dives into the interior at speeds of up to 4000 kilometres per hour. This is the latest discovery by the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft.
Published: 5 November 2001
Listen to the soundtrack accompanying this movie and you may think it reminiscent of some avant-garde music. The sound is, in fact, representative of the vibration the Mars Express spacecraft will experience during launch.
Published: 1 November 2001
In January 1996, the Hubble Space Telescope released a picture of part of the sky in the Ursa Major constellation. Known as the Hubble Deep Field (HDF), it offered mankind's deepest and most detailed optical view of the Universe. Since then the image has become a reference for astronomers with numerous follow-up observations at other wavelengths. Today, XMM-Newton contributes its own X-ray vision of this notable region of the heavens.
Published: 1 November 2001
Call for Letters of Interest
Published: 31 October 2001
The Cluster four spacecraft measurements allow for the measurement of many differential quantities. The gradient of the electron density is one of them. This parameter is key in magnetospheric physics since it is involved in the motion of plasma boundaries and structures.
Published: 31 October 2001
Once in orbit, space telescopes can produce heavenly pictures. ESA's new gamma-ray observatory INTEGRAL - just a year away from launch - will be focusing on some of the highest energy celestial sources. Before seeing the stars, one of INTEGRAL's four instruments has been taking some down-to-Earth but surprising pictures - a famous discus thrower and a bottle of champagne.
Published: 26 October 2001
The impressive rho Ophiuchi cloud is one of the heavenly meeting points for astronomers in search of young stars. Located 540 light-years away in the constellation of Ophiucus, in the celestial equator, this dusty region is the nest of more than one hundred newborn stars. But ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO, has also found a surprise hidden in the dust: 30 brown dwarfs, elusive and ambiguous objects considered to be 'failed stars' because they have too little mass to shine as stars. Relatively few of these brown dwarfs have been identified so far, so finding one is like winning a trophy. With this discovery ISO has turned the rho Ophiuchi region into a favourite game reserve for brown-dwarf hunters.
Published: 25 October 2001
People living at high latitudes may have to endure long, icy winters, but Nature has stepped in to offer some compensation in the form of the auroras - the beautiful, shimmering curtains of red and green that illuminate the polar skies. Now the four Cluster spacecraft have begun to shed new light on the processes that make this dazzling display possible.
Published: 23 October 2001
Black holes may be worse monsters than we thought. Not only do they inexorably devour matter around them, but they may also be able to steadily belch out energy. This is the conclusion of a European-led team of astronomers whose work with ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory has produced surprising new results.
Published: 22 October 2001
A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope is an example of 'painting with light'. Astronomers use the separated colours produced by oxygen and hydrogen to investigate star-forming processes in the nebula NGC 2080. The colours explain much about the nature of such nebulae.
Published: 18 October 2001
On 15 October 1997, the skies over Cape Canaveral were illuminated by the fiery exhaust from a mighty Titan IVB/Centaur rocket. It was the start of one of the great adventures in space exploration a seven-year trek which would end with the NASA Cassini spacecraft in orbit around the planet Saturn and the deployment of ESA's Huygens probe onto the unseen surface of Titan, one of the largest satellites in the Solar System.
Published: 16 October 2001
Astrium will build the 3.5-metre mirror for ESA's Herschel Space Observatory Giant telescopes with primary mirrors of 8 metres in diameter are now common on the ground, but it will take a while before they can jump into space. The first 'space giant' to come will be on ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, to be launched in 2007.
Published: 15 October 2001
For the second time in its 11-year lifetime, ESA's Ulysses spacecraft is about to fly over the Sun's north pole. On Saturday, 13 October, it will reach its highest north solar latitude (80 degrees north). At about the same time, solar and heliospheric scientists will meet in Oxnard, California, to discuss the latest findings about the heliosphere, the vast region of space blown out by the solar wind and over which our Sun holds sway.
Published: 11 October 2001
Centuries ago it was commonly believed that comets carried disease in their tails. Nowadays we know the only 'disease' you can get from a comet is a cold - if you stay out too long at night watching it! But these old beliefs were not completely wrong: comet tails do contain an extremely poisonous chemical compound - hydrogen cyanide. Now a team of Dutch and German astronomers using ESA's Infrared Space Observatory and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Hawaii have discovered that this poison can help them to understand the birth of massive stars - its presence is a sign that a massive baby star has begun to warm up.
Published: 10 October 2001
Like ships on a never-ending expedition around the world, ESA's four Cluster spacecraft continue to explore the mysterious magnetic environment that surrounds the Earth - a stormy sea filled with electrified particles instead of water. As the quartet surveys the planet's poles, they are discovering the secrets of the northern cusp - a funnel-shaped opening in the magnetic field.
Published: 9 October 2001
18-Sep-2021 04:41 UT

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