ESA Science & Technology - Solar System
In response to the escalating coronavirus pandemic, ESA has decided to further reduce on-site personnel at its mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The new adjustments require temporarily stopping instrument operation and data gathering on four Solar System missions: Cluster, ExoMars TGO, Mars Express and Solar Orbiter.
Using over 18 years of data from ESA's Cluster mission, scientists have mapped the heavy metals in the space surrounding Earth, finding an unexpected distribution and prevalence of iron and shedding light on the composition of our cosmic environment.
First measurements by a Solar Orbiter science instrument reached the ground on Thursday, providing a confirmation to the international science teams that the magnetometer on board is in a good shape following a successful deployment of the spacecraft's instrument boom.
A grand synthesis of Rosetta data has shown how its target comet repeatedly changed colour during the two years it was watched by the spacecraft. The chameleon comet's nucleus became progressively less red as it made its close pass around the Sun, and then red again as it returned to deep space.
Fifteen years ago today, ESA's Huygens probe made history when it descended to the surface of Saturn's moon Titan and became the first probe to successfully land on another world in the outer Solar System. However, during its descent, the probe began spinning the wrong way – and recent tests now reveal why.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has once again captured comet 2I/Borisov streaking through our Solar System on its way back into interstellar space. At a breathtaking speed of over 175 000 kilometres per hour, Borisov is one of the fastest comets ever seen.
Watch a replay of the live coverage of the launch of Solar Orbiter, ESA's new Sun-exploring spacecraft, which will look at our parent star from a completely new perspective. The spacecraft was launched by the US Atlas V 411 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 10 February 2020.
The assembly of the flight model of ESA's JUICE spacecraft began in September, with the delivery of the spacecraft's primary structure, followed by integration of the propulsion system that will enable the mission to reach and study Jupiter and its moons.
An important stage in the development of ESA's Solar Orbiter mission was completed between May and June, when a series of tests to validate the electromagnetic compatibility and magnetic properties was carried out on the spacecraft's flight model.