ESA Science & Technology - Publication Archive
The 39th meeting of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) was held 14-22 July 2012 in Mysore, India.
This report to COSPAR on the scientific activities of the European Space Agency was written by members of the Directorate of Earth Observation, the Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Operations and the Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration.
- Foreword by Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General, ESA
- Earth Observation
- The Living Planet Programme
- The Earth Explorer Missions
- ERS and Envisat
- Human Spaceflight and Operations
- Overview: Columbus and ISS Facilities
- Funding Europe's ISS Research: ELIPS
- Research on the ISS
- Ongoing Research Using Other Platforms
- Projects under Development
- Science and Robotic Exploration
- Missions in Operation
- Missions in the Post-Operations and Archiving Phases
- Projects under Development
- Missions under Study
We have detected in Cassini data the signature of the periodic tidal stresses within Titan driven by the eccentricity (e = 0.028) of its 16-day orbit around Saturn. Precise measurements of the acceleration of the Cassini spacecraft during six close flybys between 2006 and 2011 have revealed that Titan responds to the variable tidal field exerted by Saturn with periodic changes of its quadrupole gravity, at about 4% of the static value. Two independent determinations of the corresponding degree-2 Love number yield k2 = 0.589 ± 0.150 and k2 = 0.637 ± 0.224 (2-sigma). Such a large response to the tidal field requires that Titan's interior is deformable over time scales of the orbital period, in a way that is consistent with a global ocean at depth.
This document describes the Payload of STE-QUEST, a mission in the Fundamental Physics domain conceived to test to high accuracy the different aspects of the Einstein Equivalence Principle. This document derives directly from the STE-QUEST Science Requirements Document and STE-QUEST Mission Requirements Document. It also integrates elements included in the STE-QUEST proposal (and associated reference documents), the STE-QUEST CDF Study and the STE-QUEST Instruments Mid-Term Review datapackages.
This document provides the baseline description of the payload, its instruments, supporting units and interfaces, as defined at the beginning of the STE-QUEST assessment study. It shall be consolidated as part of the study and shall be formally updated at the end of it. This is the first revision of the document, following the completion and closure of the Instruments mid-term Review held in May 2011.
JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) is an ESA-led L-class mission of the ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-25 Programme. It aims at a comprehensive exploration of the Jovian system with particular emphasis on Jupiter, its environment, and Galilean moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto by investigating them as planetary bodies and potential habitats.
The Science Management Plan (SMP) describes the approach that will be implemented to ensure the fulfilment of the scientific objectives of the JUICE mission and to optimise its scientific return, with special emphasis on payload procurement, science operation and data management.
The Earth's bow shock is the most studied example of a collisionless shock in the solar system. It is also widely used to model or predict the behaviour at other astrophysical shock systems. Spacecraft observations, theoretical modelling and numerical simulations have led to a detailed understanding of the bow shock structure, the spatial organization of the components making up the shock interaction system, as well as fundamental shock processes such as particle heating and acceleration. In this paper we review the observations of accelerated ions at and upstream of the terrestrial bow shock and discuss the models and theories used to explain them. We describe the global morphology of the quasi-perpendicular and quasi-parallel shock regions and the foreshock. The acceleration processes for field-aligned beams and diffuse ion distribution types are discussed with connection to foreshock morphology and shock structure. The different possible mechanisms for extracting solar wind ions into the acceleration processes are also described. Despite several decades of study, there still remain some unsolved problems concerning ion acceleration at the bow shock, and we summarize these challenges.
Cataloguing the night sky is an essential part of astronomy. Before astronomers can investigate a celestial object, they must know where to find it. Without this knowledge, astronomers would wander helplessly in what Galileo once termed a 'dark labyrinth'.
ESA's Gaia mission will create a detailed map of this labyrinth, finding clues to the origin, structure and evolution of our home galaxy, the Milky Way.
- The discovery machine
- Stars as individuals and collectives
- Our Solar System and others
- How does Gaia work?
- Building Gaia
- The flood of data
The old, red stars that constitute the bulges of galaxies, and the massive black holes at their centres, are the relics of a period in cosmic history when galaxies formed stars at remarkable rates and active galactic nuclei (AGN) shone brightly as a result of accretion onto black holes. It is widely suspected, but unproved, that the tight correlation between the mass of the black hole and the mass of the stellar bulge results from the AGN quenching the surrounding star formation as it approaches its peak luminosity. X-rays trace emission from AGN unambiguously, whereas powerful star-forming galaxies are usually dust-obscured and are brightest at infrared and submillimetre wavelengths. Here we report submillimetre and X-ray observations that show that rapid star formation was common in the host galaxies of AGN when the Universe was 2-6 billion years old, but that the most vigorous star formation is not observed around black holes above an X-ray luminosity of 1044 ergs per second. This suppression of star formation in the host galaxy of a powerful AGN is a key prediction of models in which the AGN drives an outflow, expelling the interstellar medium of its host and transforming the galaxy's properties in a brief period of cosmic time.
Published online 5 April 2012, in Science Express
Observations with the Venus Express magnetometer and low-energy particle detector revealed magnetic field and plasma behaviour in the near-Venus wake symptomatic of magnetic reconnection, a process that occurs in the Earth's magnetotail but is not expected in the magnetotail of a non-magnetized planet like Venus. On 15 May 2006, the plasma flow in this region was toward the planet and the magnetic field component transverse to the flow was reversed. Magnetic reconnection is a plasma process that changes the topology of the magnetic field and results in energy exchange between the magnetic field and the plasma. Thus, the energetics of the Venus magnetotail resembles that of the terrestrial tail where energy is stored and later released from the magnetic field to the plasma.