ESA kosmose uudised
Climate change is, arguably, the biggest environmental challenge the global population faces today. To address this major issue, decision-makers not only need accurate information on how our world is changing now, but also predictions on what may happen in the future. A sound knowledge of how Earth behaves as one system is the foundation to all of this – and the pieces of this complex puzzle come largely from satellites orbiting our planet. To ensure that data from Earth-observing satellites are used to their best advantage, further science and, ultimately, bring the most benefit to humankind, ESA and NASA have formed a strategic partnership for Earth science and climate change.
The reconfigurable satellite will launch this summer from the European Space Port in French Guiana. Eutelsat Quantum will be capable of being reprogrammed after launch. It will provide data, communications and entertainment exactly where and when it is wanted. Watch the replay of this Q&A with the media to learn more and hear from the key players behind its development.
ESA will enhance the versatility of Europe’s Ariane 6 rocket with a kick stage called Astris in a €90 m development contract with prime contractor, ArianeGroup. This is part of ESA’s strategy to extend Ariane 6’s capabilities to serve a wider range of space transportation requirements.
A fortnight after the 21 June winter solstice in Antarctica, the crew at Concordia Research Station are slowly welcoming the return of sunlight. This photo was taken by ESA-sponsored medical doctor Nick Smith on 1 July at noon.
The 12-member crew at Concordia, located at the mountain plateau called Dome C, have spent the last few months in complete darkness: the sun disappeared in May and will not be fully visible again until mid-August. This image of high noon signals the beginning of the end of winter on the remote continent.
Confined in extreme conditions, the crew at Concordia – one of three Antarctic stations inhabited all year long – find solace in traditions. Midwinter often includes well wishes from other Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations as well as communal projects. The crew this year brewed their own beer to mark the occasion.
As well as offering around nine months of complete isolation, Concordia’s location at 3233 m altitude means the crew experience chronic hypobaric hypoxia – lack of oxygen in the brain. Temperatures can drop to –80°C in the winter, with a yearly average of –50°C. The temperature at the time of this image was –65°C, with wind chill at about –80°C.
As a station set in Earth’s harshest space, Concordia is an ideal stand-in for studying the human psychological and physiological effects of extreme cold, isolation and darkness.
Nick is working on seven experiments, looking in general at the effects of isolated, confinement and extreme environment, analogous to a lunar or martian station, on mindfulness, cognition, risk taking, decision making, immune systems, stress, eye health, sexual security, and social dynamics. He has collected many samples and questionnaires over the past nine months.
The crew are headed for the home stretch of their Antarctic residency which will bring not only sunlight but also fresh crew. Researchers arriving for the summer campaign means a lot of preparatory work for the current crew.
In the next few weeks, they will need to plough the skiway, remove snow around the station, deep clean, and in the case of Nick, prepare his samples for return to Europe.
Follow the adventures at Concordia on the Chronicles from Concordia blog.
Soon Eutelsat Quantum will be launched into a geostationary orbit on board an Ariane 5 from Kourou. This advanced telecommunications satellite is revolutionary as it offers its users the ability to reconfigure the satellite while in orbit. This offers a previously unknown degree of flexibility during its 15-year lifetime. It allows for satellites of this type to be mass-produced, making them extremely interesting for commercial parties and industry. The satellite was developed as an ESA partnership project with operator Eutelsat and prime contractor Airbus working together with ESA to share the risk of developing this innovative piece of technology.
This VNR includes interviewes with :
- Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, ESA - in English & French
- Simon Weinberg, Quantum Project Manager, ESA - in English
- Christophe Dallest, Quantum Project Manager, Airbus Defence and Space - in English & French
- Frederic Piro, Director Eutelsat Quantum Programme, Eutelsat - in English
- François Gaullier, SVP Telecommunications Systems - Space Systems, Airbus Defence and Space – in English
The 40-year-old mystery of what causes Jupiter’s X-ray auroras has been solved. For the first time, astronomers have seen the entire mechanism at work – and it could be a process occurring in many other parts of the Universe too.
Using measurements from ESA’s Earth Explorer Swarm mission, scientists have developed a new tool that links the strength and direction of the magnetic field to the flight paths of migrating birds. This is a huge step forward to understanding how animals use Earth’s magnetic field to navigate vast distances.
The Gulf of Martaban, an arm of the Andaman Sea located in southern Myanmar, is featured in this false-colour image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission.
Trying to explain satellite communication to children is no easy task, so why not let robot host ROBert help? In the third of the ROBert Knows videos created by ESA and PLAYMOBIL, ROBert examines how satellite communication works with a little help from our own expert Director of TIA, Elodie Viau.
For the hundreds of millions of people living in coastal regions around the world, rising seas driven by climate change pose a direct threat. In order for authorities to plan appropriate protection strategies, accurate information on sea-level rise close to the coast is imperative. For various reasons, these measurements are difficult to get from satellites. However, new ESA-funded research demonstrates how a specific way of processing satellite altimetry data now makes it possible to determine sea-level change in coastal areas with millimetre per year accuracy, and even if the sea is covered by ice.
The heart of the Exospheric Mass Spectrometer (EMS) is visible in this image of the key sensor that will study the abundance of lunar water and water ice for upcoming missions to the Moon.
This spectrometer is being delivered to NASA today as part of the PITMS instrument for its launch to the Moon later this year.
EMS is based on an ‘ion trap’, an ingenious detector device that allows researchers to identify and quantify sample atoms and molecules in a gas and allows to establish a corresponding mass spectrum. Scientists at The Open University and RAL Space are developing EMS under an ESA contract.
Lunar molecules entering the sensor are bombarded by electrons emitted by a heated wire to create ions. The resulting ions are stored within an electric field formed by a set of precisely-shaped electrodes. The ions are then released from this ‘trap’ in order of increasing mass/charge ratio into the detector that identifies and quantifies their chemical makeup.
This will allow the instrument to measure water and other molecules in the very thin atmosphere of the Moon throughout the lunar day to study a lunar ‘water cycle’ concept.
The PITMS instrument will be part of a lunar lander that will arrive on the Moon on NASA’s Astrobotic mission taking commercial lunar payloads to the Valles Mortis region in 2021.
A similar Mass Spectrometer is also developed for ESA’s Prospect mission to study lunar water ice on board the Russian Luna-27 lander, set for launch in 2025. The platform will sample potential resources on the Moon to prepare technologies for future sustainable exploration.
“ESA’s Exospheric Mass Spectrometer will not only acquire science data but also test our latest environmental monitoring technology for planetary environments,” says Roland Trautner, ESA project lead for EMS.
“Instruments like EMS allow the detection of the impact of human activities on the lunar environment, and understanding these changes allows us to improve our science and learn how to protect the natural environment on planetary bodies. Small, lightweight detectors like EMS might become standard equipment on future lunar landers.”
With the goal of developing the first long-term presence on the Moon, ESA is joining forces with NASA and other partners on humanity’s return to the Moon. The next ‘Artemis’ generation to experience lunar landings will be an international one and is opening up lunar space exploration to the global population.
Follow the next major milestone in human exploration by taking part in the first-ever online lunar marathon. The French initiative On the Moon Again is hosting 24 hours of talks and lunar observations in English for a global audience. For more information and to register, see www.onthemoonagain.org.
The European Robotic Arm (ERA) will be launched to the International Space Station together with the Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module, called ‘Nauka’. ERA is the first robot able to ‘walk’ around the Russian segment of the Space Station. It has the ability to anchor itself to the Station and move back and forward by itself, hand-over-hand between fixed base-points. This 11-metre intelligent space robot will serve as main manipulator on the Russian part of the Space Station, assisting the astronauts during spacewalks. The robot arm can help install, deploy and replace elements in outer space
ERA is 100% made-in-Europe. A consortium of European companies led by Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands designed and assembled it for ESA. The robotic arm is largely funded by the Dutch government.
This VNR includes interviews to:
- Sytze Kampen: ERA project manager, Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands (in English & Dutch)
- André Kuipers: Astronaut, ESA (in English & Dutch)
- Philippe Schoonejans: ERA project manager, ESA (in English & Dutch)
Week in images: 28 June - 02 July 2021
Discover our week through the lens
After several weeks of bad weather and strong winds, the latest pair of high-altitude drop tests of the ExoMars parachutes took place in Kiruna, Sweden. The 15 m-wide first stage main parachute performed flawlessly at supersonic speeds, while the 35 m-wide second stage parachute experienced one minor damage, but decelerated the mock-up of the landing platform as expected.
Part of the Frisian Islands, a low-lying archipelago just off the coast of northern Europe, is visible in this image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission.
The international James Webb Space Telescope has passed the final mission analysis review for its launch on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.