News archive

News archive

Last November the ESA Director of Science, Professor David Southwood, announced the need for a complete reassessment of the ESA science programme. Following the Council meeting at ministerial level, funds for ESA's space science would be substantially less than had been hoped. Realistic planning would have to replace optimistic planning.
Published: 16 May 2002
The SUMER instrument on the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft has measured amazing wind speeds during its observations of the Sun. It sets a new record in its examination of two loops of gas arching in the solar atmosphere, where NASA's TRACE satellite spotted bright blobs of gas. Shifts in the wavelength of ultraviolet light from highly ionized neon atoms, seen by SUMER, revealed steady wind speeds of up to 320 000 kilometres per hour. That's fast enough to cross the Atlantic Ocean in less than a minute.
Published: 16 May 2002
Guess when a comet will be spotted to win a SOLARMAX DVDESA's solar satellite, SOHO, has become the best comet spotter the world has ever known. When SOHO's latest solar images are posted on the Internet, astronomers and space enthusiasts alike are thrilled when they spot evidence of new comets that have never been seen before as they pass close to the Sun. Since SOHO's launch in 1995, 435 new comets have been discovered. And, in the very near future, the 500th new comet will be found.
Published: 10 May 2002
Conditions in space are unlike anything we experience on Earth. Incredible extremes of temperature that can switch in an instant, startling vacuum conditions, not to mention radiation - it's a tough life for a spacecraft. So it is essential to make sure they are prepared to withstand these conditions before they are launched into this wholly unfriendly environment.
Published: 7 May 2002
Jubilant astronomers today unveiled humankind's most spectacular views of the Universe as captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's new Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). They also reported that Hubble is operating superbly since the March servicing mission and are looking forward to more pictures from the newly revived NICMOS camera.
Published: 30 April 2002
Far away among the stars, in the Ara constellation of the southern sky, a small black hole is whirling space around it. If you tried to stay still in its vicinity, you couldn't. You'd be dragged around at high speed as if you were riding on a giant flywheel. In reality, gas falling into the black hole is whirled in that way. It radiates energy, in the form of X-rays, more intensely than it would do if space were still by tapping into the black hole's internal energy stream.
Published: 26 April 2002
Thirty years after Apollo 16's lunar module, Orion, landed at the western edge of the Descartes Mountains on 21 April 1972, there is still much that we don't know about the Moon. For instance, how was it created? And what role did it play in the formation and evolution of Earth?
Published: 23 April 2002
The next few weeks offer the chance of a lifetime to observe the five brightest planets appearing close together in the sky. Look to the west after sunset, and even an inexperienced watcher without a telescope will see the planets changing their relative positions in a slow dance from night to night. And you can take the opportunity to pick out the destinations of three, perhaps four, of ESA's interplanetary spacecraft.
Published: 19 April 2002
The 9th Huygens Probe Checkout was executed on 14 April 2002.
Published: 18 April 2002
Between now and Saturday, 20 April, you can follow via the Internet the progress of the new-found Comet SOHO-422. Usually, comets seen by the SOHO spacecraft quickly burn up in the Sun's hot atmosphere. This one won't, so there is still time to monitor its progress.
Published: 17 April 2002
In the past five weeks two asteroids have passed close by Earth, at distances of 1.2 and 3 times the distance to the Moon. Another asteroid has recently been shown to have a 1 in 300 chance of colliding with Earth in 2880. Monitoring known asteroids allows astronomers to predict which may collide with Earth. But that is only true for the asteroids we know of. What about those that lie in the asteroid blind spot between the Sun and Earth? The European Space Agency is studying ways in which its missions can assist in monitoring these unseen but potentially hazardous asteroids.
Published: 12 April 2002
Asteroids in our Solar System may be more numerous than previously thought, according to the first systematic search for these objects performed in the infrared, with ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO. The ISO Deep Asteroid Search indicates that there are between 1.1 million and 1.9 million 'space rocks' larger than 1 kilometre in diameter in the so-called 'main asteroid belt', about twice as many as previously believed. However, astronomers think it is premature to revise current assessments of the risk of the Earth being hit by an asteroid.
Published: 5 April 2002
Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions ever detected in the Universe. They are also one of the greatest mysteries of modern astronomy, since so far no clear evidence has existed to prove what causes them. Until now, there have been two 'prime suspects' for what makes gamma-ray bursts, the collision of neutron stars - dead, ultra-dense stars - or the death of very massive stars in supernova explosions. The new results from the XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope rule out the first hypothesis and confirm the second, at least for the gamma-ray burst that occurred on December 11, 2001.
Published: 4 April 2002
While ESA's INTEGRAL spacecraft prepares for launch in October 2002, the INTEGRAL Science Data Centre at Versoix (Switzerland) is getting ready for operations. On 11 April 2002, the doors of the centre - which will prepare and distribute the INTEGRAL data to the worldwide astronomical community - will be open to the European scientific community and to the press.
Published: 27 March 2002
How do they know its Easter? Ever wondered how the exact dates of the Easter break are chosen? Easter Sunday can fall anytime between 22 March and 25 April and, thanks to European observations of the Sun that go back many centuries, the exact date can be predicted as far ahead as 4099 AD.
Published: 26 March 2002
On 14-15 November 2001, an ESA Council meeting at Ministerial level was held in Edinburgh. The level of resources, i.e., the funds allocated to the ESA Science Programme for the next 5 years, were insufficient to carry out the Long Term Programme as approved in the Science Programme Committee (SPC) of ESA in October 2000.
Published: 25 March 2002
The disturbed spiral galaxy NGC 7673 is ablaze with the light from millions of new stars. Each of its infant giant blue star clusters shines 100 times as brightly in the ultraviolet as similar immense star clusters in our own Galaxy. Scientists studying this object have two pressing questions: "What has triggered this enormous burst of star formation and how will this galaxy evolve in the future?"
Published: 24 March 2002
Like a hardy mariner preparing for a marathon journey from the tropical shores of Brazil to the icy waters of Cape Horn, the mettle of ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has been tested to the limit in recent weeks.
Published: 19 March 2002
Are dark spots that appear near the south pole of Mars in early spring, a sign of life on the Red Planet? No-one can say for sure, according to a group of scientists who met at ESTEC, ESA's technical centre in the Netherlands. But the spots are certainly fascinating, the meeting agreed, and well worth a detailed look by Mars Express, the European Space Agency's Mars mission, when it goes into orbit around the Red Planet in late 2003.
Published: 12 March 2002
As part of the on-going Hubble servicing mission a new instrument, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) was installed on the ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope on the morning of 7 March 2002 (European time). We talked to Piero Benvenuti, ESA's project scientist for Hubble, and asked him to share some of his thoughts on this occasion.
Published: 7 March 2002
20-Sep-2021 10:32 UT

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