News archive

News archive

Excellent use of Hubble continues to provide astronomers in ESA's member states with a disproportionate share of the space telescope's observing time. ESA has a 15 per cent stake in the Hubble Space Telescope project, earned by providing the Faint Object Camera, the first two sets of solar power arrays, and some staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. Current European-led programmes account for about 22 per cent of the observing schedule. So what have Europe's astronomers been doing with Hubble?
Published: 11 February 1997
The "Messages on Titan" operation is proceeding successfully. Thousands upon thousands of signatures and messages from all over the world have been collected at the Internet site set up by ESA for this purpose.
Published: 11 February 1997
Cassini-Huygens, a joint ESA/NASA mission, will be launched in October 1997. After a journey lasting almost 7 years, which will take the spacecraft to an orbit around Saturn, ESA's Huygens probe will be released over Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and will examine its environment and surface.
Published: 1 February 1997
A composite image from two instruments in the solar spacecraft SOHO gives a clear impression of different mechanisms at work in the solar atmosphere, creating two kinds of wind flowing outwards from the Sun. When the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory was launched, just a year ago this week, one of its main tasks was to identify the sources of the solar wind, which blows non-stop into the solar system and influences all the planets, including the Earth. This line of investigation is already full of promise.
Published: 9 December 1996
The European Space Agency's Faint Object Camera in the Hubble Space Telescope has identified a neutron star, the smallest and densest type of star that exists, lying approximately 3000 light-years away in the southern sky. It is 100 million times dimmer than faint stars seen by the unaided eye. Thus the Faint Object Camera lives up to its name by revealing objects in the Universe close to the limit of visibility.
Published: 28 November 1996
A special issue of the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, published in the latter part of November 1996, is devoted to early results from the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory. Ninety-one scientific papers tell of unprecedented inspections of the cool universe and its hidden corners, as ISO and its four excellent instruments rewrite the astronomical textbooks.
Published: 28 November 1996
The International Ultraviolet Explorer has completed a campaign of special observations of Jupiter in concert with the Hubble Space Telescope and with NASA's Galileo spacecraft now in orbit around the giant planet. IUE provided an unrepeatable opportunity for sustained observations by ultraviolet light, over 40 days, as its contribution to the programme called the International Jupiter Watch. Important targets were the aurorae, activated by charged particles hitting Jupiter's atmosphere, which IUE discovered around the planet's magnetic poles in 1980.
Published: 30 September 1996
This month, exactly seven years after the launch of the European Space Agency's star-mapping satellite Hipparcos in August 1989, the Hipparcos Catalogue has been completed for distribution to contributing scientists. The satellite expired in 1993, after nearly four years of operation. Since then, number- crunching computers across Europe have digested and reconciled a million million bits of information to pinpoint the positions of 118 000 stars.
Published: 22 August 1996
At a meeting of the Science Programme Committee (SPC) of the European Space Agency (ESA) in February, the decision was taken to terminate the orbital operations of the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) satellite on September 30. Science operations will terminate shortly before that date to allow the necessary end-of-life testing of the spacecraft. Only a year ago, when NASA - the major partner in the IUE project - decided to terminate its IUE science operations, ESA had been able to extend its support to include full responsibility for the scientific operations, under the "hybrid science operations" scheme, and thus maintain this important capability for the astrophysics community. As a consequence of the budgetary restrictions placed on ESA's Science Programme, the earlier recommendation of the Space Science Advisory Committee (SSAC), to terminate the operations of IUE in coordination with NASA in September, was accepted by the SPC.
Published: 12 August 1996
On 4 June 1996 the maiden flight of the Ariane 5 launcher ended in a failure. Only about 40 seconds after initiation of the flight sequence, at an altitude of about 3700 m, the launcher veered off its flight path, broke up and exploded.
Published: 23 July 1996
Human perceptions of the star that gives us life are changing rapidly as a thousand images a day stream from the sungazing SOHO spacecraft 1 500 000 kilometres out in space. Since its launch on 2 December 1995, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory has vastly improved the ability of scientists to probe the Sun's interior by detecting sound waves at its surface. SOHO also gives the best maps of the ever-changing patterns of magnetism at the Sun's visible surface. And the spacecraft has revealed and anatomized knots of hot activity that can occur in the solar atmosphere even when the visible surface of the Sun appears completely calm.
Published: 15 July 1996
At its meeting on 25 and 26 June 1996, the ESA Council was informed in detail of the measures taken after the Ariane 501 failure and of the proposed approach to revive the scientific objectives of the Cluster mission. Council noted that following the Ariane 501 flight failure on 4 June, the ESA Director General, Jean-Marie Luton, and the CNES Chairman, Alain Bensoussan, set up an Enquiry Board to determine the causes, investigate whether the qualification and acceptance tests were appropriate and recommend corrective action to eliminate the causes of the anomaly and other possible weaknesses in the system(s) found to be at fault.
Published: 27 June 1996
Investigation of the flight 501 failure has been under way since 4 June. In particular, a large part of the equipment contained in the vehicle equipment bay has been recovered and inspected. This has revealed the existence of a malfunction relating to the inertial platforms in Ariane-5 operating mode. The relevant information has been conveyed to the Inquiry Board, which will take it into account in its further deliberations.
Published: 14 June 1996
The water that we drink and which fills the world's oceans had its origin among the stars. Astronomers are enthralled by results from the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO, which reveal the chemistry of our Galaxy in unprecedented detail. Surprisingly conspicuous in the neighbourhood of stars at the end of their lives is water vapour made by the combination of primordial hydrogen with oxygen atoms newly manufactured by the stars themselves. Water then reappears during the formation of new stars and planets from the interstellar medium. This happened at the origin of tbe Solar System, and incidentally supplied the water which accounts for more than half of a human being's body weight.
Published: 12 June 1996
Following the failure of flight 501, Mr Jean-Marie Luton, the Director General of ESA and Mr Alain Bensoussan, Chairman of CNES have decided:
Published: 10 June 1996
The first Ariane-5 launch took place on Tuesday, 4 June 1996, from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Spaceport, at Kourou in French Guiana. The launcher was carrying the European Space Agency's four Cluster satellites, a science mission to study Earth-Sun interactions.
Published: 6 June 1996
New observations with the Hubble Space Telescope have determined the age of the stars in the globular Cluster NGC 6752 with unprecedented accuracy. The age of the stars in globular clusters is significant because these stars are believed to have formed during the era of the formation of our galaxy, an event which probably occurred only 1 to 2 billion years after the birth of the Universe itself. An accurate age estimate for these cluster stars is thus regarded as an important means of gauging the age of the Universe.
Published: 28 May 1996
ESA, the European Space Agency, NASA and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) are today releasing today a set of unprecedented images representing a time lapse movie of the bright Comet Hyakutake making its close approach to the Sun. The observations were made from 29 April to 6 May 1996 with the NRL-built Large Angle Spectrometric Coronograph (LASCO) instrument on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft.
Published: 24 May 1996
In an impressive show of confidence, Ariane-5 has been entrusted with a singularly prestigious mission for its maiden flight, now expected to be at the end of this month. The new heavy launch vehicle will have the task of placing a payload of exceptional scientific value in orbit: the Cluster* quartet built by ESA to make a detailed study of the fraught relations between the Sun and Earth.
Published: 3 May 1996
The Sun sparkles like a diamond in images from the new solar space observatory SOHO. Short, hair-like jets of strong emission decorate the Sun's atmosphere to an extent not clearly seen before. Recorded by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope EIT aboard SOHO, these "spicules" of various kinds tell of energetic upheavals that may be responsible for heating the outer atmosphere to more than two million degrees C. Also visible in the ultraviolet images are plumes like ropes, stretching far into space from the north and south poles of the Sun.
Published: 2 May 1996
11-Aug-2020 05:03 UT

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