News archive

News archive

The European Space Agency's X-ray space observatory has taken its very first pictures giving new views on the Universe. The commissioning images confirm that the XMMspacecraft, its X-ray telescopes and science instruments are functioning perfectly, to the great satisfaction of all involved.
Published: 2 February 2000
The 5th Huygens Probe in-flight checkout and other Huygens test activities take place 2-5 February. The checkout will be activated tonight at 23:00 CET and lasts for 4 hours. Yesterday, the spacecraft was successfully re-oriented so as to point its High Gain Antenna (HGA) towards Earth. This makes it possible to get high-rate telemetry in real time. The Probe checkout will be executed in direct visibility from the Goldstone Deep Space Network (DSN) station and thus data will arrive in quasi-real time (at 300 000 kms-1 radio waves take about 20 minutes to reach in Earth) at the Huygens Probe Control Centre at ESOC, Darmstadt (D) through the Cassini Control Centre at JPL.
Published: 1 February 2000
Press conference 4 FebruaryThe stars are the chemical factories of the Universe: they synthesise intheir cores new chemical elements that combine in the stellar outskirtsto produce new molecules, and these will become part of the raw materialout of which more stars, planets, and maybe even living organisms willform. ESA's infrared space telescope, ISO, has identified many of thesecompounds in space. About 150 astronomers, including many experts in space-chemistry, will present and discuss results in the field at ESA's Villafranca station, in Madrid, Spain, from 2 to 4 February.
Published: 30 January 2000
Environmental tests on the Structural Thermal Model (STM) of the Rosettaspacecraft are back in full swing after the long break for Christmas andMillennium celebrations. The latest endurance trial, known as a Sine (orSinusoidal) Test, was successfully completed today in the giant check-outroom at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in theNetherlands.
Published: 30 January 2000
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
7-May-2021 12:43 UT

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