News archive

News archive

Over the weekend of 8-10 January, a fortunate turn of events enabled the SOHO/EIT instrument to capture a magnificant solar firework display. Spectacular movies and high-resolution images are available on the SOHO hot shots page.
Published: 27 January 2000
The Beagle 2 team has selected two potential landing sites on Mars for further study. In the latest issue of the Beagle 2 Bulletin, John Bridges from the Natural History Museum, London, who is leading the landing site study, writes: "The prospective areas are within the Chryse and Tritonis Lacus regions. Both are at low elevation, which gives more opportunity for the parachutes to brake the descent of Beagle 2. The latitude of the two sites, about 190N, means that the mission will begin during the Martian late spring, when there is more solar energy to charge batteries and nighttime temperatures are relatively high, making it easier to keep the spacecraft warm.
Published: 25 January 2000
The Mars Express project has moved from the drawing board to the test bench. The first piece of hardware, a unit for the on-board computer, has been delivered to the prime contractor, Matra Marconi Space (MMS), Toulouse.
Published: 23 January 2000
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is back in business, as made dramatically evident in stunning new celestial pictures of remote galaxies and a colourful dying star released today.
Published: 23 January 2000
Exactly three years to go before launch! That was the challenge facingapproximately 80 scientists and mission managers from ESA member countriesand the United States as they gathered this week at the European SpaceResearch and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in The Netherlands for a progressreport on the Rosetta mission to Comet Wirtanen.
Published: 23 January 2000
Once upon a time astronomers were passionate star-lovers who were eagerto climb up a mountain just to get the clearest view of the night sky.Not anymore. It seems that the climbing - though not the passion -can now be avoided. On 12 January a supernova explosion was discovered byan Italian amateur astronomer who was operating a telescope from his homecomputer, via the Internet. And it is not the first time it has happened: the samegroup found another supernova in the same way just before Christmas. "Of coursewe are very excited about these findings!", says Alessandro Dimai, one of the happy discoverers.
Published: 20 January 2000
The clouds of gas and dust grains in interstellar space contain complex organic molecules made of hundreds of chained carbon atoms. The European Space Agency's infrared space telescope, ISO, has detected these molecules in many different environments and is now unveiling the chemical paths leading to their formation in space. A group of Spanish astronomers have detected for the first time outside the Solar System two molecules that could be the precursors for the formation of the more complex organic compounds. The newly found molecules, detected in two very old stars, are diacetylene and triacetylene (C4H2 and C6H2).
Published: 19 January 2000
Following a suggestion from members of the Flight Dynamics department at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany,an amateur astronomer in Australia has managed to take a picture of XMM in orbit.
Published: 18 January 2000
The new year starts with another eclipse. No need however to retrieve those special sunglasses left over from last August! On the night of 20-21 January, we will be offered a total lunar eclipse.
Published: 17 January 2000
Chemical synthesis of complex organic molecules, the most basic 'buildingblocks' for life, can occur rapidly in stellar environments, according toresults obtained with the European Space Agency's infrared spaceobservatory, ISO, and presented last Saturday at the AmericanAstronomical Society meeting in Atlanta by a team of astronomers.
Published: 16 January 2000
Saturn and its mysterious moon Titan are the primary target of the NASA/ESA CassiniHuygens mission, but the final destination is still a long way away. The spacecraft, which has just passed the closest approach in a swing-by of Jupiter, will take four more years to reach the 'king of the rings' and start studying its atmosphere, rings, interior and magnetic field environment, as well as Titan and the planet's other moons. Huygens, ESA's first planetary probe, will have to wait longer, until after arrival at Saturn, to enter Titan's atmosphere and explore this mysterious cold world.
Published: 14 January 2000
After months of delays because of wiring defects, an engine swap and replacement of a crushed liquid hydrogen line, NASA launched Discovery into space on Hubble Servicing Mission 3A Monday 20 December at 01:50 CET.The main objectives for the mission were to replace Hubble's faulty gyroscopes, and other equipment, such as the computer, a Fine Guidance Sensor, a radio transmitter and a Solid State Recorder.
Published: 13 January 2000
Construction of the Mars Express spacecraft can now begin, after final approval for the design was granted on Tuesday. A meeting chaired by Roger Bonnet, ESA's Director of Scientific Programmes, and Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director for Science Strategy and Technical Assessment, gave the approval after hearing a presentation on the findings of the science and engineering review team. The review team had endorsed the Mars Express design last December, after spending a week poring over the plans at the offices of Matra Marconi Space (MMS) in Toulouse. Starsem, the company that is providing the Fregat-Soyuz launcher, and MMS also presented their latest activities yesterday.
Published: 12 January 2000
Planck, ESA's satellite to study the Universe as it was shortly after the Big Bang, is quickly taking shape. Its conceptual design has been settled and was presented to the Planck scientific community just before Christmas. A full size wooden mock-up of the satellite built according to this design has arrived at ESA's Scientific and Technical Research Centre (ESTEC) in The Netherlands and will be assembled in the course of January.
Published: 9 January 2000
All of XMM's instruments have been switched ON and their computer software loaded on board. The first task has been to check the health of the instruments repeating the engineering test procedure used on the ground before launch. This has confirmed that all instruments remain in the same condition as before launch. This was also the 'acid test' to verify that the instrument data sent by the spacecraft were reaching Villafranca and were being processed correctly. On 4 January, to everyone's relief, the first data arrived and were processed correctly by the new software installed at the XMM Science Observations Centre. Watching this important event, XMM project manager Robert Laini commented: "I saw big smiles all around when EPIC and later test images appeared on the screen."
Published: 6 January 2000
Three and a half years ago, after the tragic loss of four Clustersatellites in the Ariane 501 launch failure, European scientists andengineers came together in an effort to salvage something from thewreckage. Their proposal was to assemble a fifth Cluster from spare partsleft over from the ill-fated mission.
Published: 3 January 2000
ESA astronauts Claude Nicollier and Jean-Frangois Clervoy and their five fellow crew members on the Space Shuttle Discovery returned to Earth today (28 December at 0001 UT) after a spectacular mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
Published: 28 December 1999
The Director of Science, Roger Bonnet, sends a New Year greeting to thetaxpayers in the 14 Member States of the European Space Agency who makepossible the challenging projects of the space science programme.The latest Science Newsletter (n0 38) is now available
Published: 21 December 1999
The Space Shuttle Discovery made a perfect lift-off today carrying ESA astronauts Claude Nicollier and Jean-François Clervoy and five US astronauts into space. Lift-off from launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, occurred at 00:50 UT on Monday 20 December at the beginning of a 42-minute launch window.
Published: 20 December 1999
The European Space Agency's new X-ray space telescope has reached its operational orbit less than a week after being launched from Kourou on 10 December. The XMM spacecraft, which is being controlled by teams at the European Space Operations Centre, ESOC Darmstadt Germany, is functioning admirably.
Published: 19 December 1999
28-Sep-2020 19:35 UT

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