News archive

News archive

In 1997 spacecraft built by the European Space Agency are opening new windows on our Universe and offering new prospects for scientific discovery.
Published: 16 July 1997
An assembly of 58 mirrors, carefully sized, formed and nested one inside another, makes the most sensitive X-ray telescope ever built. ESA's new satellite called XMM, for X-ray Multi-Mirror, will carry three identical telescopes of this kind when it goes into orbit in 1999. With its gold- coated reflecting surfaces totalling 300 square metres, XMM will revolutionize X-ray astronomy. Observations of X-rays from cosmic sources that previously took hours to accomplish will be done by XMM in a matter of seconds.
Published: 13 May 1997
To find anything to rival the new results on star positions and motions from the Hipparcos satellite, the European Space Agency's director of science has to look back 400 years. Commenting on the Hipparcos Symposium which commences in Venice on 13 May, Roger Bonnet compares it to astronomy in Denmark at the end of the 16th Century.
Published: 12 May 1997
The smart place for globe-trotting astronomers to be in May is on the island of San Giorgio in Venice, Italy. There they will gather, 13-16 May, to celebrate and discuss astonishing information about the stars that has come from ESA's Hipparcos satellite.
Published: 6 May 1997
Water is the medium of life, and ESA's cosmic water diviner continues to detect it in a wide variety of sources in the cosmos where it was previously unknown. Astronomers using ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO, have found water vapour in dark clouds lying towards the centre of the Milky Way. They calculate that water is abundant in our Galaxy.
Published: 29 April 1997
Almost 300 renowned astronomers, astrophysicists and physicists from all over the world will gather in Venice on 13-16 May at the Hipparcos Venice 97 Symposium, organized by the European Space Agency.
Published: 8 April 1997
While Comet Hale-Bopp steams away into the outer darkness, not to return to the Sun's vicinity for many centuries, the European Space Agency and multinational teams of space scientists are finalizing plans to examine another comet at very close quarters, in the Rosetta mission.
Published: 3 April 1997
Comets contain the remnants of the raw materials that built the Earth and the other planets of the Solar System. Emphatic confirmation of this long-standing belief of astronomers comes from the detection of the mineral olivine in Comet Hale-Bopp, by ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO. The 28 March issue of the US journal Science carries a report on this result by a European and American team led by Jacques Crovisier of l'Observatoire de Paris-Meudon.
Published: 28 March 1997
ESA's Science Programme Committee, meeting at ESA Headquarters in Paris today, has agreed on the reflight of a full Cluster mission by mid-2000. After months of intense negotiations and an impressive display of solidarity by all ESA member States and the scientific community at large in supporting the reflight, this mission to investigate the physical interaction between the Sun and our planet is back on track.
Published: 26 March 1997
If you had infrared eyes, Comet Hale-Bopp would look quite different from the streaky visible object now examined by astronomers' telescopes and amateurs' binoculars all around the world, as the comet approaches its close encounter with the Sun. You would see not just the very fine dust thrown out by the comet, which makes its head and tail conspicuous to ordinary human eyes, but larger particles of dust. The colour or dominant wavelength of the infrared glow would tell you the temperature of the dust cloud. And infrared hues at other wavelengths would reveal the nature of the dust, and let you see what vapours emanate from the comet's nucleus as the Sun's rays warm its chilly surface.
Published: 14 March 1997
The European Space Agency's Huygens probe is ready to be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center. On arrival, it will undergo special tests and then be mated with the Cassini Saturn orbiter for launch in October 1997 on a Titan IVB/Centaur rocket.
Published: 3 March 1997
An action-packed motion picture from ESA's solar spacecraft SOHO astonishes the experts and will enthral the public. It shows the Sun at Christmas sailing in front of the stars of the Sagittarius constellation and the Milky Way, while blowing its solar wind outwards in all directions around it. During the movie, the Sun swallows a comet. In a subsequent unconnected event it emits a plainly visible puff of gas, in a large mass ejection.
Published: 14 February 1997
The observable Universe may be about 10 per cent larger than astronomers have supposed, according to early results from the European Space Agency's Hipparcos mission. Investigators claim that the measuring ruler used since 1912 to gauge distances in the cosmos was wrongly marked.
Published: 14 February 1997
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
13-Jun-2021 12:17 UT

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