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News archive

To get around, satellites sailing through space use the same tools that ancient mariners used to navigate the inhospitable oceans - the stars. ESA's SMART-1 mission will test special software that will soon allow spacecraft to calculate and adjust their course all by themselves.
Published: 11 November 2002
As scientists demand more from space missions travelling to other worlds and beyond, traditional rocket technologies are beginning to show shortcomings. In response, ESA are helping to develop a new type of rocket engine, known as solar-electric propulsion, or more commonly, an ion engine, that can mark a whole new era of space exploration.
Published: 11 June 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
Space scientists meeting in Berlin this week will compare their hopes for the European Space Agency's first lunar project, SMART-1, with other forthcoming missions to the Moon.
Published: 13 January 2002
To survive the physical stresses associated with launch, a spacecraft and its payload must be solidly built and well tested. Each spacecraft built for an ESA science mission is unique and so must undergo its own 'baptism of fire' to prove that it can withstand the launch and reach its orbit in perfect shape ready to carry out its mission.
Published: 12 July 2001
Last week marked the start of the integration campaign for ESA's SMART-1 mission. On 13 March, SMART-1 began to take shape as assembly of the structural model (STM) began at the APCO integration facility in Vevey, Switzerland.
Published: 18 March 2001
Will the Moon be the ultimate travel destination? Can we harness energy from the Moon? How and when can we build a lunar base or a lunar village? Will it be possible to transform that barren landscape 384 000 kmaway into a thriving hub of scientific research and industrialization? These and other questions will be discussed during the first Convention of Lunar Explorers (LUNEX) in Paris, at the Palais de la Dicouvertefrom 8 to 10 March.
Published: 1 March 2001
The 1st Convention of Lunar Explorers, organised by LUNEX , ILEWG and ESA, will be held Palais de la Decouverte, Paris, on 8-10 March 2001. ESA's SMART-1 mission to the Moon will be presented to the public and the press. The Lunar Explorers Society (LUNEX ) is an international organisation created in July 2000, which aims to promote the exploration of the Moon for the benefit of humanity. LUNEX wants to bridge the gap between space agencies and the general public to promote planetary exploration and space. The 1st Convention will allow the discussion of the science of the Moon, technology, future utilisation of the Moon, lunar bases, public outreach and education, lunar and planetary exploration, and the recommendations of Young Lunar Explorers.
Published: 7 February 2001
The Padova Earth-Moon Relationship conference gave us, the Astronomy students of Padova University, the occasion to meet some people who have realised our dreams in many different ways. On 7 November, the day before the beginning of the conference, the Apollo 15 Commander, David Scott, and the ESA Smart-1 Project Scientist, Bernard Foing, came to our Department, to visit the Specola and to talk with the students. That first contact let us compare the old and the new methodologies of lunar research.
Published: 21 November 2000
Galilean Academy celebrates 400 years with conference on Earth-Moon relations and space explorationAn International Conference on Earth-Moon relationships will take place in Padova from 8 to10 November 2000. This is part of an interdisciplinary initiative celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Galilean Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts in Padova (Accademia Galileiana di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti). The conference will open in the Aula Magna of the historic University palace.
Published: 2 November 2000
The recommendations of the ICEUM4 conference have been presented at the General Assembly of COSPAR (Committee for Space Research) in Warsaw on 18-24 July. The ICEUM4 reports were given during a Lunar Exploration session, a special symposium on Public understanding of Science as well as in the COSPAR Commissions B (Planetary sciences) and F ( Life sciences in space). COSPAR agreed to co-sponsor the 5th ICEUM meeting during the COSPAR/IAF World Space Congress to take place in Houston in October 2002.
Published: 31 July 2000
Over 150 people gathered at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre ESTEC in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, to discuss the prospects for lunar exploration, development and utilisation. We found that interest in these topics has been significantly advanced by recent discoveries made by lunar orbiting missions and will continue to advance as new missions to the Moon are implemented. The ESA SMART-1 and the Japanese Lunar-A and SELENE missions are under development and government and private organisations are proposing other lunar missions.
Published: 18 July 2000
Even a Belgian mineral water 'SPA' has contributed to the lively discussions at the Noordwijk lunar conference. "No need to search for water in the South Pole Aitken basin, when we already have it here!" joked one participant.
Published: 14 July 2000
Day 3 of the ICEUM conferenceThey bear evocative names: 'Lunar-A', 'Selene', 'MoonRaker', 'LunarSat' or 'IceBreaker'. Together they illustrate the enormous attraction of Earth's natural satellite. After SMART-1, all these lunar projects were presented on the third day of 4th International Conference on Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon (ICEUM4).
Published: 13 July 2000
The scientific quest to better understand Earth's natural satellite, its composition and its evolution in a wider planetary context was at the centre of the second day of the 4th International Conference on Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon (ICEUM4). "The Moon is a laboratory, just waiting for us to move in!" exclaimed one lunar geologist eager to obtain more data on the formation of impact craters.
Published: 12 July 2000
Opening proceedings and greeting the many young people present this week in Noordwijk, Bernard Foing, President of the inter-agency International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG) nicely set the tone of the event. His call reflected the long- term ambitions of many of those attending the 4th International Conference on Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon (ICEUM4): the pursuit of lunar exploration in all its forms.
Published: 11 July 2000
From 10 to 15 July, Noordwijk (NL) will be the "Capital of the Moon" when ESA's establishment ESTEC hosts the 4th International Conference on Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon (ICEUM4). The Moon conference is organised by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG). "The purpose of the ICEUM4 conference", says Bernard H. Foing, current ILEWG chairman, " is to gather Lunar Explorers (young and old), scientists, engineers, industrial firms and organisations to review recent activities and prepare for the next steps on the Moon".
Published: 30 June 2000
27 months away from launch, the SMART-1 project team and its industrial partners now have their very first full-scale version of Europe's lunar satellite. The main assembly of the mock-up was completed at the facilities of the prime contractor Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) in Solna (near Stockholm) on 12 June.
Published: 29 June 2000
With ESA's SMART-1 leading the way in 2002, the first half of this decade will be seeing a small flotilla of spacecraft exploring the Moon. These projects and their lunar science objectives were evoked with enthousiasm at the Annual General Assembly of the European Geophysical Society held in Nice, France between 24-29 April.
Published: 5 May 2000
It was with added enthusiasm that the key players in the SMART-1 mission gathered at ESTEC on 31 January and 1 February for their sixth Science and Technology Working Team meeting. It was the first reunion since ESA's lunar mission and its science and technology payload were given the final go-ahead last November. SMART-1 is the first of the Agency's Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology.
Published: 2 February 2000
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