News archive

News archive

Opportunities arising because Portugal is joining the European Space Agency were aired at a scientific meeting in Porto, 30 March - 1 April. Entitled "Space Astronomy: from the Sun's vicinity to large scale structures", the meeting was jointly organized by the Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto and ESA. While ESA scientists and other visitors gave overviews of space science, Portuguese astronomers reported relevant research in progress in their country.
Published: 7 April 2000
Ulysses, the joint ESA/NASA spacecraft, has added comet spotter to its list of talents. Two papers published in Nature today report that on 1 May 1996, the spacecraft flew through the tail of comet Hyakutake whose nucleus was more than 3.5AU (one AU equals the Sun-Earth distance) away at the time "This makes it the longest comet tail ever recorded", says Geraint Jones from Imperial College, London who is a member of one of the two instrument teams that made the discovery.
Published: 6 April 2000
For current astronomers, the 'darkest' epoch of the universe is the time when the first galaxies started to form and evolve: no instrument today can peer into that era. Unveiling it will be the task of the next giant space-and ground-based telescopes, which will provide different pieces of information to complete the jigsaw at last. As astronomers explained last week in Munich at the conference 'Astronomical Telescopes and Instruments 2000', ESA's space telescope FIRST will take the lead in this task, unveiling the galactic collisions that produced the first stellar 'baby boom' in the history of the Universe. NGST, a mission currently under study by several spaces agencies, will follow two years later.
Published: 5 April 2000
The Cluster II Flight Acceptance Review Board, which was chaired by ESA Director of Science, Professor Roger Bonnet, and co-chaired by ESA Director of Strategy Jean-Jacques Dordain, met at the Agencys Paris Headquarters yesterday to carry out a detailed examination of all aspects of the Cluster II mission.
Published: 3 April 2000
More than 80 astrophysicists from all over the world travelled to the small town of Les Diablerets in the Swiss Alps to learn how to use ESA's Integral satellite, once it is in orbit, to gather powerful gamma-radiation coming from distant objects in the Universe. A gamma-ray telescope is very different from a normal optical telescope. Thus special data analysis is needed to transform the signals measured by the scientific instruments on board Integral to fundamental physical units and images that describe the properties of the radiation entering the telescope
Published: 3 April 2000
Currents of gas deep inside the Sun pulsate like the blood in human arteries, speeding and slackening every 16 months. Solar scientists are astonished by this discovery. It comes from an international team pooling observations from the MDI instrument on the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft and from a worldwide chain of ground stations called GONG. Rachel Howe and her colleagues announce their results in the 31 March issue of the journal Science.
Published: 3 April 2000
The Cassini/Huygens spacecraft has already completed a third of its interplanetary journey to Saturn and Titan. During the journey the Huygens Probe is usually dormant, so it does not require much electrical power to stay healthy. Even when it does need electrical power for the periodic checkout activities, it can always rely on the Orbiter's radio-isotope thermo-electric generators. So the probe is like a baby in the womb, being fed by the mother Orbiter. Once the baby is born, it has to learn to survive by itself and the same applies to Huygens. After the release from Cassini, the Probe will have to rely on its own power electrical generator: 5 LiSO2 batteries with a total capacity of 1800 Wh.
Published: 27 March 2000
Fundamental Physics in Space and Related TopicsA workshop on Fundamental Physics in Space and Related Topics will be held at CERN on 5-7 April 2000. The purpose of this workshop is to draw the attention of a wide community to the perspectives offered by space technology which now permits fundamental physics experiments (e.g., tests of General Relativity) to be carried out in space with a sensitivity that is orders ofmagnitude higher than what can be expected from the best ground-based experiments.
Published: 24 March 2000
Epinal, Parc des Expositions, 25 March-2 AprilHow does the Sun affect our environment? Are there other forms of life in the Universe? What worlds should be explored in the solar system? How can we observe and understand black holes and the Big Bang?All these questions will be on the agenda of the 2nd Vosgian Exhibition onSpace and Astronomy, at Epinal(Vosgian capital, in the Alsace-Lorraine region) from 25 March to 2 April.
Published: 23 March 2000
Imagine leaving home for 11 years, to embark on a trek which will take you from the frozen wastes of Antarctica to the sizzling deserts of Arabia. Working out how to survive such extreme temperature variations would be a major headache.A similar problem is facing the designers of ESA's Rosetta comet chaser. In the early and late stages of its prolonged expedition, the spacecraft will sweep across the inner Solar System, where sunlight is plentiful. However, in order to rendezvous with Comet Wirtanen, Rosetta will have to probe beyond the asteroid belt, more than 5 times the Earth's distance from the Sun. In those frigid regions, the solar energy levels are only 4% of the those that we enjoy on our balmy planet.
Published: 22 March 2000
Preliminary analysis of Monday's Cluster II Mission Validation Flight showsthat the Fregat upper stage on the Russian Soyuz rocket has passed itssecond test with flying colours.The objectives of this flight were to confirm the re-ignition and orbitalmanoeuvring capabilities of the Fregat, and to validate the mission profileto be used by ESA's Cluster II scientific satellites. The newly developedFregat ('frigate' in English) is now ready to launch the Cluster II quartetthis summer.
Published: 21 March 2000
How do you know that a satellite in space does exactly what you want it to do? You can't have a close look at the spacecraft once it has been launched. A thorough and systematic series of tests must therefore be carried out before launch to make sure that the commands will have the desired effect and that the data sent by the satellite are correctly interpreted. This is what experts at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) at Darmstadt are now doing with Integral, ESA's gamma-ray observatory.
Published: 21 March 2000
ESA scientists at the UNESCO forum in The Hague: 'Water, a fragile gift fromStars to planets'The water that we drink and that fills the world's oceans comes from thestars, as the detection of huge amounts of water in many regions of theuniverse by ESA's infrared space telescope, ISO, has recently proved.This fact opened the one-day session on 'Water and Space' organised byESA and UNESCO at a World Water Forum being held in The Hague (NL).
Published: 20 March 2000
A lot of down-to-Earth preparations have to take place before the ambitious Cluster II mission to study the magnetosphere can be launched into space this summer. One of the most difficult stages was completed at the weekend when a high security cargo of explosive fuel arrived under armed guard at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Published: 20 March 2000
Planck, ESA's satellite to study the origins of the Universe, will makeits first 'public appearance' this week in Bologna (Italy): a full-scalemock-up of the satellite, due for launch in 2007, will be unveiled forthe first time at the 'Settimana della cultura scientifica' ('Scientific knowledge week') organised by the Institutes of the ItalianResearch Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) of the BolognaResearch Area. Themock-up, a structure of wood and aluminium recently built for technicalpurposes, will now serve to explain how Planck will answer the mostfundamental questions about the Universe.
Published: 20 March 2000
Following the recent visit of a Chinese delegation to ESA Headquarters and ESTEC, European scientists are looking forward to participation in a 'mini-Cluster' mission, known as Double Star.
Published: 17 March 2000
The XMM-Newton space observatory has formally been handed over to the science team that will be operating it for the years to come. Following a commissioning phase review, held at the mission's Science Operations Centre in Villafranca on 8/9 March, ESA management has declared that the commissioning of the spacecraft and the instruments is completed. Operations can now commence with the start of the calibration of its science instruments, essential before regular science observations can begin in June.
Published: 16 March 2000
Stunning images and movies of the stormy Sun are included in ESA's newCD-ROM "SOHO: Exploring the Sun". The material comes from four years'observations of the Sun by the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft since its launchat the end of 1995. The CD-ROM is organized by subjects in an easy-to-use format.Nearly 200,000 copies are being distributed to the readersof several astronomy and space magazines, with the April 2000 issues ofAstronomy Now (United Kingdom) and Orione (Italy), and the May issuesof Ciel et Espace (France) and Sterne und Weltraum (Germany).
Published: 16 March 2000
What happens with an astronomical satellite after it is switched off? Answer: it keeps producing science. That is at least the true of the legendary International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) satellite, an ESA/NASA/UK project. IUE was the first space observatory ever launched and also the one that lived the longest - nearly two decades! This week ESA will release the new IUE archive (INES), the first astronomical database distributed to national data centres all over the world for faster and easier access. This new archive will no longer belong to ESA but to the entire scientific community.
Published: 14 March 2000
On 9 March, after a successful stack test with its sister spacecraft (FM 8), the fourth and final Cluster II satellite (FM 5) completed its rigorous series of environmental tests. With the successful culmination of their assembly, integration and verification programme, the Cluster II quartet are now ready for transportation to Baikonur Cosmodrome, the next major landmark on the road towards launch this summer.
Published: 12 March 2000
11-Aug-2020 03:50 UT

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