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News archive

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
Engineers in charge of the European Space Agency's Huygens mission have reviewed the success of the recent Jupiter Probe with their counterparts from NASA, at a meeting in Ottobrunn, Germany. Huygens is designed to parachute into the atmosphere of Titan, the largest moon of the planet Saturn. It shares important features with the Probe, released from NASA's Galileo spacecraft, which plunged into the atmosphere of Jupiter on 7 December 1995.
Published: 5 April 1996
Italian astrophysicists have pushed the Hubble Space Telescope to the limit of its powers in finding the distance of Geminga, a pointlike object 500 light-years from the Earth. It is the prototype of a novel kind of star, a radio-silent neutron star, which may be much more common in the Universe than previously supposed. Geminga is so weak in visible light that Hubble had to stare at the spot for more than an hour to register it adequately. The object is nevertheless one of the brightest sources of gamma-rays in the sky, and its output of this very energetic form of radiation can now be accurately gauged.
Published: 28 March 1996
The turmoil when two vast assemblies of stars crash together is revealed by the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO. This is among the early results announced by astronomers today at ESA's satellite tracking station at Villafranca near Madrid, which commands ISO in its examination of the Universe. Since the satellite's launch on 17 November 1995, teams of astronomers have received invisible light from many cosmic sources while checking their instruments.
Published: 14 February 1996
SOHO, the international mission led by the European Space Agency is the most comprehensive space observatory to study the Sun that has been flown to date. Thanks to a highly accurate launch it will start its scientific investigations earlier than planned and will be able to operate much longer than expected. SOHO (the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) will probe the interior of the Sun and address many fundamental questions about our daylight star.
Published: 24 January 1996
ESA's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) was successfully launched by Ariane during the night of 17 November. The cover closing the cryostat was ejected on 27 November thereby enabling astronomical use of the ISO telescope. All systems on-board the technologically-innovative satellite are working very well, better than specifications and all the ISO instruments have now received first light.
Published: 6 December 1995
Scientists ability to study the Sun, the star that sustains life on Earth, took a massive leap forward today with the launch of SOHO, a sophisticated state-of-the-art spacecraft built by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Published: 2 December 1995
31-Oct-2020 08:34 UT

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