Publication archive

Publication archive

The concept of Technology Reference Studies (TRS), set up by ESA's Science Payload and Advanced Concepts Office (SCI-A) to focus the development of strategically important technologies of likely relevance to future science missions, has already been introduced in 2004 at the 55th IAC in Vancouver[1].

Significant progress in the definition of the mission concepts and related technology requirements has been achieved since then. At the present time the Planetary Exploration Studies Section of SCI-A has finished the study of the first four TRSs, the Venus Entry Probe (VEP), the Jupiter Minisat Explorer (JME), the Deimos Sample Return (DSR) and the Interstellar Heliopause Probe (IHP). Current study activities are now focusing on the extension of the Jovian Explorer scenario towards magnetospheric and atmospheric investigations by means of additional orbiter(s) and entry probes. New introduced concepts deal with cross-scale constellation (CSM) of up to 12 spacecrafts to further explore the Earth magnetosphere and a Near Earth Asteroid Sample Return (ASR).

All TRS mission profiles are based on small spacecraft, with miniaturized highly integrated payload suites (HIPS) and launched on Soyuz Fregat-2B (SF-2B) as baseline. TRSs are set up to provide thematic context for technology development based on feasible mission concepts, which may be also used by the scientific community as embryonic building blocks for future mission proposals. This paper describes the current status of the new concepts under study (CSM, JEP, ASR) and the final results of the first four TRSs (JME, DSR, VEP and IHP) in further detail.

Published: 22 October 2005
The Solar Orbiter mission is part of ESA's science program, Cosmic Vision 2020. It will explore the innermost regions of the heliosphere from high heliopsheric latitudes. From a distance of about 0.23AU and a max inclination of about 35 degrees with respect to the Sun's equator the Solar Orbiter will perform high resolution imagery of the sun and in-situ measurements of the heliosphere. At its closest distance to the Sun the spacecraft will experience a sun flux of approximately 28000W/m2. To protect the spacecraft bus from this flux a sun shield is used. The shield requires innovative design and materials in order to keep both the radiated and conducted heat to a minimum. Additionally, all sun exposed elements such as the high gain antenna and the solar arrays need to be designed for surviving the intense sun flux. This paper will outline the work done on the Solar Orbiter thermal design during its assessment phase. A description of the technical challenges for the overall thermal control system will be given and some of the trade-offs will be discussed. Furthermore, a feasible heat shield design will be presented together with current solutions towards test and verification of the overall system.
Published: 10 November 2005
The Solar Orbiter mission is part of ESA's Cosmic Vision science program. In the last year this mission has been studied in an assessment phase aiming at demonstrating technical feasibility and defining the mission at systems level. The Solar Orbiter will explore the innermost regions of the heliosphere from high heliopsheric latitudes. It will reach a distance of 0.22 AU from the Sun and obtain an inclination of 35 degrees with respect to the Sun's equator. In these areas a series of insitu and remote sensing measurements will be performed, providing first time in-situ measurements of regions so close to the Sun and at the same time provide arcsec resolution imagery. Additionally, the Solar Orbiter will provide the first ever out-of-the-ecliptic imaging and spectroscopic observations of the Sun's poles. Two mission profiles have been studied during the assessment; one utilizing solar electric propulsion and one using chemical propulsion. Both these scenarios will be discussed in this paper and the respective spacecraft design and the current Strawman payload will be presented. The strong link to BepiColombo through reuse of components will be outlined and specific technology development needs for the Solar Orbiter will be described.
Published: 10 November 2005
Previous Cluster observations have shown that the flapping motions of the Earth's magnetotail are of internal origin and that kink-like waves are emitted from the central part of the tail and propagate toward the tail flanks. The newly launched Double Star Program (DSP) TC-1 satellite allows us to investigate neutral sheet at 10-13 Re in the tail. Using conjunctions with Cluster we will have simultaneous observations at 10-13 and 16-19 Re of these flapping motions. In this paper, we present the first results of neutral sheet oscillations observed by the Cluster and Double Star satellites on 5 August 2004.
Published: 08 November 2005
We present Cluster and Double Star-1 (TC-1) observations from a close magnetic conjunction on 8 May 2004. The five spacecraft were on the dawnside flank of the magnetosphere, with TC-1 located near the equatorial plane and Cluster at higher geographic latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere. TC-1, at its apogee, skimmed the magnetopause for almost 8h (between 08:00-16:00 UT). Flux Transfer Events (FTEs), moving southward/tailward from the reconnection site, were observed by TC-1 throughout almost all of the period. Cluster, travelling on a mainly dawn-dusk trajectory, crossed the magnetopause at around 10:30 UT in the same Magnetic Local Time (MLT) sector as TC-1 and remained close to the magnetopause boundary layer in the Southern Hemisphere. The four Cluster spacecraft observed FTEs for a period of 6.5h between 07:30 and 14:00 UT. The very clear signatures and the finite transverse sizes of the FTEs observed by TC-1 and Cluster imply that, during this event, sporadic reconnection occurred. From the properties of these FTEs, the reconnection site was located northward of both TC-1 and Cluster on the dawn flank of the magnetosphere. Reconnection occurred between draped magnetosheath and closed magnetospheric field lines. Despite variable interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) conditions and IMF-Bz turnings, the IMF clock angle remained greater than 70° and the location site appeared to remain relatively stable in position during the whole period. This result is in agreement with previous studies which reported that the dayside reconnection remained active for an IMF clock angle greater than 70°. The simultaneous observation of FTEs at both Cluster and TC-1, separated by 2h in MLT, implies that the reconnection site on the magnetopause must have been extended over several hours in MLT.
Published: 08 November 2005
We present the study of one year of INTEGRAL data on the neutron star low mass X-ray binary GX 5-1. Thanks to the excellent angular resolution and sensitivity of INTEGRAL, we are able to obtain a high quality spectrum of GX 5-1 from ~5 keV to ~100 keV, for the first time without contamination from the nearby black hole candidate GRS 1758-258 above 20 keV. During our observations, GX 5-1 was mostly found in the horizontal and normal branch of its hardness intensity diagram. A clear hard X-ray emission is observed above ~30 keV which exceeds the exponential cut-off spectrum expected from lower energies. This spectral flattening may have the same origin of the hard components observed in other Z sources as it shares the property of being characteristic to the horizontal branch. The hard excess is explained by introducing Compton up-scattering of soft photons from the neutron star surface due to a thin hot plasma expected in the boundary layer. The spectral changes of GX 5-1 downward along the 'Z' pattern in the hardness intensity diagram can be well described in terms of monotonical decrease of the neutron star surface temperature. This may be a consequence of the gradual expansion of the boundary layer as the mass accretion rate increases.
Published: 01 November 2005
The fourteenth day of January 2005 was one of mankind's major milestones, which, like most milestones probably, passed unnoticed by the vast majority. On this day, at 11:30 UTC a spacecraft from planet Earth landed on the surface of Titan, after a journey of more than 3,000,000,000 km. There, the probe remained busy for its short lifetime of a mere seventy minutes before it fell into an eternal sleep. That probe was Huygens, and this article describes the Cassini-Huygens mission and some of the results it returned about the mysterious moon, Titan.

This article is based on a talk given by Professor Nicolas Thomas of the Physikalisches Institut of the Universität Bern to the Pro ISSI.
Published: 01 November 2005


The Solar Orbiter mission is presently in assessment phase by the Science Payload and Advanced Concepts Office of the European Space Agency. The mission is confirmed in the Cosmic Vision programme, with the objective of a launch in October 2013 and no later than May 2015. The Solar Orbiter mission incorporates both a near-Sun (~0.22 AU) and a high-latitude (~ 35 deg) phase, posing new challenges in terms of protection from the intense solar radiation and related spacecraft thermal control, to remain compatible with the programmatic constraints of a medium class mission. This paper provides an overview of the assessment study activities, with specific emphasis on the definition of the model payload and its accommodation in the spacecraft. The main results of the industrial activities conducted with Alcatel Space and EADS-Astrium are summarized.
Published: 01 August 2005
We discuss the potential benefits of using compound semiconductors for the detection of X- and gamma-ray radiation. While Si and Ge have become detection standards for energy dispersive spectroscopy in the laboratory, their use for an increasing range of applications is becoming marginalized by one or more of their physical limitations; namely the need for ancillary cooling systems or bulky cryogenics, their modest stopping powers and radiation intolerance. Compound semiconductors encompass such a wide range of physical properties that it is technically feasible to engineer a material to any application. Wide band-gap compounds offer the ability to operate in a wide range of thermal and radiation environments, whilst still maintaining sub-keV spectral resolution at hard X-ray wavelengths. Narrow band-gap materials, on the other hand, offer the potential of exceeding the spectral resolution of both Si and Ge, by as much as a factor of 3. Assuming that the total system noise can be reduced to a level commensurate with Fano noise, spectroscopic detectors could work in the XUV, effectively bridging the gap between the ultraviolet and soft X-ray wavebands. Thus, in principle, compound semiconductor detectors can provide continuous spectroscopic coverage from the far infrared through to gamma-ray wavelengths. However, while they are routinely used at infrared and optical wavelengths, in other bands, their development has been plagued by material and fabrication problems. This is particularly true at hard X- and gamma-ray wavelengths, where only a few compounds (e.g., GaAs, CdZnTe and HgI2) have evolved sufficiently to produce working detection systems. In this paper, we examine the current status of research in compound semiconductors and by a careful examination of material properties and future requirements, recommend a number of compounds for further development.
Published: 22 September 2004

Ten to twenty years from now, a succession of clever new spacecraft will need to be ready to fly in ESA's continuing Science Programme, now called Cosmic Vision. They will tackle some of the big scientific questions that are high on the agenda of research across Europe (and, indeed, worldwide) concerning the Universe and our place in it:

  • what are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?
  • how does the Solar System work?
  • what are the fundamental physical laws of the Universe?
  • how did the Universe originate and what is it made of?

This brochure gives a detailed overview of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan. The opportunities under the above four main headings are presented, and specific aspects of each general theme that are judged to be especially ripe for investigation by new space tools in the period 2015-2025 are identified. A review of the technology that will have to be developed is given.

The presented planning on behalf of the scientific community and aerospace industry takes into account the Science Directorate's preliminary reckoning of the practical constraints of technology. In the section 'Proposed Strategies and Their Implementation', the outcome of these deliberations is summarised in four tables that correspond to the above four key questions.

Published: 16 October 2005
Comets spend most of their life in a low-temperature environment far from the Sun. They are therefore relatively unprocessed and maintain information about the formation conditions of the planetary system, but the structure and composition of their nuclei are poorly understood. Although in situ and remote measurements have derived the global properties of some cometary nuclei, little is known about their interiors. The Deep Impact mission shot a projectile into comet 9P/Tempel 1 in order to investigate its interior. Here we report the water vapour content (1.5x1032 water molecules or 4.5x 106 kg) and the cross-section of the dust (330km² assuming an albedo of 0.1) created by the impact. The corresponding dust/ice mass ratio is probably larger than one, suggesting that comets are 'icy dirtballs' rather than 'dirty snowballs' as commonly believed. High dust velocities (between 110ms-1 and 300ms-1) imply acceleration in the comet's coma, probably by water molecules sublimated by solar radiation. We did not find evidence of enhanced activity of 9P/Tempel 1 in the days after the impact, suggesting that in general impacts of meteoroids are not the cause of cometary outbursts.
Published: 14 October 2005
Reprinted from Space Science Reviews, Volume 118, Nos. 1-4, 2005. Contents:
  • The Near-Earth Solar Wind
    M. L. Goldstein, et al.
  • The Foreshock
    J. P. Eastwood, et al.
  • The Magnetosheath
    E. A. Lucek, et al.
  • Cluster at the Bow Shock: Introduction
    A. Balogh, et al.
  • Quasi-perpendicular Shock Structure and Processes
    S. D. Bale, et al.
  • Quasi-parallel Shock Structure and Processes
    D. Burgess, et al.
  • Cluster at the Bow Shock: Status and Outlook
    M. Scholer, et al.
  • Magnetopause and Boundary Layer
    J. Keyser, et al.
  • Cluster at the Magnetospheric Cusps
    P. J. Cargill, et al.
  • Magnetopause Processes
    T. D. Phan, et al.
Published: 16 September 2005
A little more than four years after its launch, the first magnetospheric, multi-satellite mission Cluster has already tremendously contributed to our understanding about the coupled solar wind - magnetosphere - ionosphere system. This is mostly due to its ability, for the first time, to provide instantaneous spatial views of structures in the system, to separate temporal and spatial variations, and to derive velocities and directions of moving structures. Ground-based data have an important complementary impact on Cluster-related research, as they provide a larger-scale context to put the spacecraft data in, allow to virtually enlarge the spacecrafts' field of view, and make it possible to study in detail the coupling between the magnetosphere and the ionosphere in a spatially extended domain. With this paper we present an interim review of cooperative research done with Cluster and ground-based instruments, including the support of other space-based data. We first give a short overview of the instrumentation used, and present some specific data analysis and modeling techniques that have been devised for the combined analysis of Cluster and ground-based data. Then we review highlighted results of the research using Cluster and ground-based data, ordered into dayside and nightside processes. Such highlights include, for example, the identification of the spatio-temporal signatures of the different modes of reconnection on the dayside, and the detailed analysis of the electrodynamic magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling of bursty bulk flows in the tail plasma sheet on the nightside. The aim of this paper is to provide a "sourcebook" for the Cluster and ground-based community that summarises the work that has been done in this field of research, and to identify open questions and possible directions for future studies.
Published: 16 September 2005
Turbulence in fluids and plasmas is a ubiquitous phenomenon driven by a variety of sources-currents, sheared flows, gradients in density and temperature, and so on. Turbulence involves fluctuations of physical properties on many different scales, which interact nonlinearly to produce self-organized structures in the form of vortices. Vortex motion in fluids and magnetized plasmas is typically governed by nonlinear equations, examples of which include the Navier-Stokes equation, the Charney-Hasegawa-Mima equations and their numerous generalizations. These nonlinear equations admit solutions in the form of different types of vortices that are frequently observed in a variety of contexts: in atmospheres, in oceans and planetary systems, in the heliosphere, in the Earth's ionosphere and magnetosphere, and in laboratory plasma experiments. Here we report the discovery by the Cluster satellites of a distinct class of vortex motion-short-scale drift-kinetic Alfvén (DKA) vortices-in the Earth's magnetospheric cusp region. As is the case for the larger Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices observed previously, these dynamic structures should provide a channel for transporting plasma particles and energy through the magnetospheric boundary layers.
Published: 12 August 2005
The Van Allen radiation belts are two regions encircling the Earth in which energetic charged particles are trapped inside the Earth's magnetic field. Their properties vary according to solar activity and they represent a hazard to satellites and humans in space. An important challenge has been to explain how the charged particles within these belts are accelerated to very high energies of several million electron volts. Here we show, on the basis of the analysis of a rare event where the outer radiation belt was depleted and then re-formed closer to the Earth, that the long established theory of acceleration by radial diffusion is inadequate; the electrons are accelerated more effectively by electromagnetic waves at frequencies of a few kilohertz. Wave acceleration can increase the electron flux by more than three orders of magnitude over the observed timescale of one to two days, more than sufficient to explain the new radiation belt. Wave acceleration could also be important for Jupiter, Saturn and other astrophysical objects with magnetic fields.
Published: 09 September 2005
The four-satellite Cluster mission serves as both a 'Microscope' and a 'telescope' for magnetospheric scientists. Using its suite of state-of-the-art instruments, it is providing a close-up view of complex smallscale physical processes occurring around the Earth. These processes are often reflections of other, sometimes violent processes that are taking place much further away from our spacecraft, which means that Cluster also serves as a 'telescope' for observing those more distant processes.
Published: 15 February 2005
In proceedings of the 4th International Spacecraft Propulsion Conference (ESA SP-555). 2-9 June, 2004, Chia Laguna (Cagliari), Sardinia, Italy. Editor: A.Wilson. Published on CDROM., p.88.1

ESA's ambition of inter-planetary exploration using a fast-track low cost industrial programme was well achieved with Mars Express. Reusing the platform architecture for the service module and specifically the Propulsion system enabled Venus Express to benefit from several lessons learnt from the Mars Express experience. Using all existing components qualified for previous programmes, many of them commercial telecommunication spacecraft programmes with components available from stock, an industrial organisation familiar from Mars Express was able to compress the schedule to make the November 2005 launch window a realistic target. While initial inspection of the CPS schematic indicates a modified Eurostar type architecture, - a similar system using some Eurostar components - would be a fairer description. The use of many parts of the system on arrival at the destination (Mars or Venus in this case) is a departure from the usual mode of operation, where many components are used during the initial few weeks of GTO or GEO. The system modifications over the basic Eurostar system have catered for this in terms of reliability contingencies by replacing components, or providing different levels of test capability or isolation in flight. This paper aims to provide an introduction to the system, address the evolution from Eurostar, and provide an initial assessment of the success of these modifications using the Mars Express experience, and how measures have been adopted specifically for Venus Express.

Published: 16 October 2004
In proceedings of the 4th International Spacecraft Propulsion Conference (ESA SP-555), 2-9 June, 2004, Chia Laguna (Cagliari), Sardinia, Italy. Editor: A.Wilson. Published on CDROM., p.115.1

An insufficient amount of pressurant gas in the propulsion system or a working temperature in the pressurant tank outside the qualification limits can cause a decrease in the performance of the thrusters or even the loss of the mission. This paper presents an engineering tool used able to compute the Pressurant budget of a mission and the effects of influencing parameters. The updated tool allows to also compute the temperature, pressure and mass evolution inside the pressurant tank during the various mission phases. The tool has been used to verify the calculations done by Astrium Stevenage for Mars Express and Venus Express. The pressurant gas used for both cases was helium. The tool permits to use other combinations of pressurant gases and propellants for different propellant systems (monopropellant and bipropellant systems).

Published: 16 October 2004
In proceeding of "Workshop Astronomy with Radioactivities V", Clemson SC, USA, Sep 5-9 2005, Editors R. Diehl, D. Hartmann, E. Zinner, in New Reviews in Astronomy, Elsevier

The gamma-ray observatory INTEGRAL was launched in October 2002 and produces since then a wealth of discoveries and important new results. I will present a selection of scientific highlights obtained during the first 2.5 years of the mission.

Published: 06 September 2005
In: Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Space Optics (ICSO 2004), Toulouse, France. Ed.: B. Warmbein. ESA SP-554, Noordwijk, Netherlands: ESA Publications Division, ISBN 92-9092-865-4

A new concept of a high-resolution near-IR spectrometer consisting of an echelle grating combined with an acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) for separation of diffraction orders, is developed for space-borne studies of planetary atmospheres. A compact design with no moving parts within the mass budget of 3-5 kg allows to reach the resolving power 20 000-30 000. Only a small piece of spectrum in high diffraction orders can be measured at a time, but thanks to flexibility of the AOTF electrical tuning, such pieces of spectrum can be measured randomly and rapidly within the spectral range. This development can be used for accurate measurements of important atmospheric gases, such as CO2 in terrestrial atmosphere, isotopic ratios and minor gases. A spectrometer, based on this principle, SOIR (Solar Occultation InfraRed) is being built for Venus Express (2005) ESA mission. Instruments based on this principle have high potential for the studies of the Earth, in particular for measurements of isotopes of water in the lower atmosphere, either in solar occultation profiling (tangent altitude <10 km), or observing solar glint for integral quantities of the components. Small size of hardware makes them ideal for micro-satellites, which are now agile enough to provide necessary pointing for solar occultation or glint observations. Also, the atmosphere of Mars has never been observed at local scales with such a high spectral resolution. A laboratory prototype consisting of 275-mm echelle spectrometer with Hamamatsu InGaAs 512-pixel linear array and the AOTF has demonstrated a resolving power of 30 000 in the spectral range of 1-1.7 µm. The next set up, covering the spectral ranges of 1-1.7 µm and 2.3-4.3 µm, and the Venus Express SOIR are briefly discussed.

Published: 16 June 2004
23-Jul-2024 15:20 UT

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