ESA kosmose uudised
The work of Dr Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) is well known for being central to the discovery of the iconic double-helix structure of DNA, the fabric of life as we know it on Earth. More than half a century later, she also inspired the name of ESA’s ExoMars rover, scheduled to launch in 2020 and start its exploration of the Red Planet in 2021. But the lasting imprint Rosalind left on her family also inspired her younger brother to name his own daughter Rosalind.
After learning that the rover had been named in honour of her aunt – the result of a public competition led by the UK Space Agency – and also sharing the same name, Rosalind Franklin reached out to ESA, curious to learn more about the mission. Last month, she visited ESA’s technical centre in the Netherlands and is pictured here meeting the 1:1 scale model of the Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover for the first time.
Rosalind said: “I was overwhelmed to see the rover and to meet the extraordinary scientists that have dedicated years to the development of the project, bringing it from concept to reality, and recognising my Aunt Rosalind’s contribution to science by naming it after her. It was truly moving and filled me with pride and appreciation. It was an amazing day of learning and discovery and I know she would feel so honored and full of admiration towards everyone involved.”
ExoMars mission experts were on hand to answer her questions and to explain more about how the rover will be driven across the martian surface, and the science experiments it will carry out. One of the unique aspects of the rover is its two metre long drill that will retrieve underground samples for analysis in its onboard laboratory, where it will be able to sniff out signatures of life past or present.
Just as scientific discovery is in the soul of the ExoMars programme, Dr Rosalind Franklin knew from a young age that she wanted to be a scientist. Devoted and determined, she followed her dream, graduating with a Natural Sciences degree from Cambridge University, UK, in 1941, and earning a PhD in physical chemistry in 1945. She became an expert in X-ray diffraction imaging, applied to studying the physical chemistry of coals, and later revealing the hidden secrets of DNA, RNA and viruses.
Her legacy lives on today in a number of ways: numerous scientific institutes carry her name – one example being in the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago, U.S, that her niece is a trustee of. Next year her legacy will extend into space, and her adventurous spirit will be lived through the intrepid exploration of the Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover as it discovers hidden secrets of the Red Planet.
The ExoMars programme is a joint endeavour between ESA and Roscosmos and comprises two missions: the first – the Trace Gas Orbiter – launched in 2016 while the second, comprising the Rosalind Franklin rover and Kazachok surface platform, is planned for 2020. Together they will address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars. The TGO is already delivering important scientific results and will also relay the data from the ExoMars 2020 mission once it arrives at Mars in March 2021.
It is now almost 10 years since ESA’s CryoSat was launched. Throughout its decade in orbit, this novel satellite, which carries a radar altimeter to measure changes in the height of the world’s ice, has returned a wealth of information about how ice sheets, sea ice and glaciers are responding to climate change. One of the most recent findings from this extraordinary mission shows how it can be used to map changes in the seaward edges of Antarctic ice shelves.
Sébastien Perrault talks about his YGT experience as a System Engineer working the Clean Space Office at ESOC, Germany.
On 17 December, ESA will launch a first-of-its-kind space laboratory, OPS-SAT. The small, low-cost test satellite has been specifically designed for operational experiments in space, and includes the most powerful flight computer on board any current ESA spacecraft.
Consumer electronics have gone through a revolution over the last 30 years with computers becoming ever faster, smaller and better. But when it comes to million- or even billion-euro satellites, their onboard hardware and software have not seen this revolution because of the risks of testing new technology in flight.
As spacecraft managers dare to fly only tried-and-tested hard and software in the harsh conditions of space, innovation on the operational side of satellites is a very slow-moving process. This is where OPS-SAT steps in, bringing down the barriers to spacecraft operations it provides a chance to safely test out new mission control techniques.
Anyone can apply to become an 'experimenter' and test their innovative software and new mission operations techniques in space. Proving technology for future missions and paving the way for satellites to further evolve with minimum risk, OPS-SAT will be launched with ESA's Cheops satellite from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over the green algae blooms swirling around the Baltic Sea.
'Algae bloom' is the term used to describe the rapid multiplying of phytoplankton – microscopic marine plants that drift on or near the surface of the sea. The chlorophyll that phytoplankton use for photosynthesis collectively tints the surrounding ocean waters, providing a way of detecting these tiny organisms from space.
In most of the Baltic Sea, there are two annual blooms – the spring bloom and the cyanobacterial (also called blue-green algae) bloom in late summer. The Baltic Sea faces many serious challenges, including toxic pollutants, deep-water oxygen deficiencies, and toxic blooms of cyanobacteria affecting the ecosystem, aquaculture and tourism.
Cyanobacteria have qualities similar to algae and thrive on phosphorus in the water. High water temperatures and sunny, calm weather often lead to particularly large blooms that pose problems to the ecosystem.
In this image captured on 20 July 2019, the streaks, eddies and whirls of the late summer blooms, mixed by winds and currents, are clearly visible. Without in situ measurements, it is difficult to distinguish the type of algae that covers the sea as many different types of algae grow in these waters.
The highest concentrations of algal blooms are said to occur in the Central Baltic and around the island of Gotland, visible to the left in the image.
Although algal blooms are a natural and essential part of life in the sea, human activity is also said to increase the number of annual blooms. Agricultural and industrial run-off pours fertilisers into the sea, providing additional nutrients algae need to form large blooms.
The bacteria that consume the decaying plants suck oxygen out of the water, creating dead zones where fish cannot survive. Large summer blooms can contain toxic algae that are dangerous for both humans and other animals.
Satellite data can track the growth and spread of harmful algae blooms in order to alert and mitigate against damaging impacts for tourism and fishing industries.
This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
It's confirmed! ESA is building its fourth deep space antenna – much like the Cebreros dish pictured here – that will ensure upcoming missions like JUICE and the Hera mission have someone to talk to when they get to space.
'Deep Space Antenna 4' will be located at the New Norcia ground station in Western Australia, home of Europe’s first 35-metre antenna.
ESA’s ESTRACK network is currently made up of three deep space stations across the globe as well as a number of smaller dishes, and it is running at peak capacity. Following analysis of future mission needs, this fourth antenna will provide much-needed communication support to upcoming European and non-European deep-space missions.
Using the latest super-cool technology, the ‘antenna feed’ – through which data flows in from space – will be cryogenically cooled to just 10 degrees Kelvin (only 10 degrees above absolute zero, about -263 C). Doing this, incredibly, is expected to increase the amount of data returned by 40% at the high frequencies used for spacecraft command and control.
Such technology will also be used in the Cebreros station pictured here, and the Malagüe station, dramatically increasing the amount we can ‘hear’ from space.
Work should be finished on the station by the end of 2023, ready to begin operations by mid-2024 – just in time for the JUICE and HERA missions.
You now now find out, in real time, exactly what each ground station is up to using ESTRACKnow. Find out out exactly which spacecraft are communicating with which ground antennas at any moment, via http://estracknow.esa.int, and check out the handy guide for more information!
Calling all radio amateurs! ESA is challenging anyone with amateur radio equipment to catch the first signals from OPS-SAT, ESA’s brand new space software laboratory.
The space-borne storm-hunter on Europe’s Columbus laboratory is continuously monitoring thunderstorms as it flies 400 km overhead on the International Space Station.
ESA’s Mars Express recently tracked Phobos as the moon passed in front of the spacecraft's camera, capturing detailed views of the small, irregularly shaped body at different angles and stages of the flyby. This sequence comprises 41 images taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera’s Super Resolution Channel on 17 November 2019 during orbit 20 076, when Phobos passed Mars Express at a distance of roughly 2400 km. The images have a resolution of 21 m/pixel.
This opportunity allowed the spacecraft to capture many features across the moon’s surface; alongside a number of impact craters (including the large and prominent Stickney crater), one can see a number of linear marks and furrows.
The movie shows Phobos at a number of angles – the moon can be seen rotating, and slowly lightens up before it begins to darken again. The slight up-and-down motion of the moon is caused by the oscillation of Mars Express. It nicely illustrates the concept of ‘phase angle’: the angle between a light source (in this case, the Sun) and the observer (Mars Express’ HRSC), as viewed from the target object itself (Phobos). The initial phase angle is 17 degrees, drops to almost 0 degrees mid-way through (0.92, when Phobos is at its brightest), and then rises to 15 degrees by the end of the animation.
This arrangement – of the Sun, Mars Express and Phobos where the latter is observed at a phase angle of near zero degrees – is very rare, and happens only three times a year at most. Other chances to achieve a phase angle of under one will not occur until April and then September of 2020. As such, Mars Express takes every opportunity to view this small and intriguing moon from this angle, to shed light on its properties, behaviour, possible origin, orbital characteristics and location in space – and to probe its potential as a mission destination.
ESA’s Mars Express has captured detailed views of the small, scarred and irregularly shaped moon Phobos from different angles during a unique flyby.
English Paxi explores exoplanets!
Join Paxi on a trip beyond our Solar System. In this video, targeted at children aged between 6 and 12 years, Paxi explores exoplanets.
French Paxi explore les exoplanètes!
Rejoignez Paxi dans un voyage au-delà de notre système solaire. Dans cette vidéo destinée aux élèves de 6 à 12 ans, Paxi explore les planètes extrasolaires.
Italian Paxi esplora gli esopianeti!
Unitevi a Paxi in un viaggio oltre il nostro sistema solare. In questo video, pensato per bambini di età da 6 a 12 anni, Paxi esplora pianeti extrasolari
Portuguese Paxi explora exoplanetas!
Junta-te ao Paxi numa viagem para lá do Sistema Solar. Neste vídeo, destinado a crianças dos 6 aos 12 anos de idade, o Paxi explora planetas extrassolares.
Swedish Paxi utforskar exoplaneter!
Följ med Paxi på en resa utanför vårt eget solsystem. I den här videon, för barn från 6 till 12 år, utforskar Paxi extrasolära planeter.
To conclude our series on the stories of ESA’s YGT alumni, we caught up with Julia Schwartz, ESA Flight Dynamics Engineer and physicist. Julia joined ESA as a Young Graduate Trainee in 2006 and has stayed with the Agency ever since.
ESA’s short film, The Burn, takes us into the heart of Europe’s mission control during a critical moment in the life of a future mission.
The Christmas tree’s lights will have taken about 15 billionths of a second to travel to this multi-segment mirror, but the actual JWST’s 6.5 m mirror will observe cosmic sights from far further away.
Scheduled for launch by Ariane 5 in 2021, JWST is designed to collect almost six times more light than the current Hubble Space Telescope, peering back in infrared to the era of the first galaxies in the Universe and hunting out planets around other stars.
The Greenland ice sheet is losing mass seven times faster than in the 1990s, according to new research.
This box of holiday cheer is actually tubes of plasma containing suspended microparticles exposed to an electrical current to form 3D crystal structures.
Called Plasma Kristall-4, this ESA–Roscosmos experiment has been helping to visualise atoms on the International Space Station to provide insights on basic physical processes.
A plasma is an electrically charged gas, somewhat like lightning, that rarely occurs on Earth. It is considered to be the fourth state of matter, distinct from gas, liquids and solids.
Plasma for the PK-4 experiment is created with neon or argon gas in tubes that make particles electrically charged. Scientists excite the particles with electrical fields, a laser and changes in temperature to get them to move them in the plasma.
These manipulations cause the proxy atoms to interact strongly, leading to organised structures – plasma crystals. The plastic particles in PK-4 bond or repulse each other just as atoms do on Earth in fluid state.
By adjusting the voltage across the experiment chamber scientists can tailor their interactions, and observe each particle as if in slow motion. Using PK-4, researchers across the world can follow how an object melts, how waves spread in fluids and how currents change at the atomic level.
The experiment is installed in the European Physiology Module on the European space laboratory Columbus and was last run in November with assistance from cosmonaut Alexander Skvorstov.
The science team recently met in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, to review the insights gleaned from five years of research on the Space Station.
A powerful space telescope, due for launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 17 December 2019, will give scientists a new insight into the nature of planets outside our Solar System.
Cheops, the 'Characterising Exoplanet Satellite', will study known exoplanets that are orbiting bright stars.
More than 4000 exoplanets have been discovered and Cheops will be targeting known planets between the size of Earth and Neptune, to find out more about their composition, internal structure and whether they might be able to support life.
Cheops' mission is a partnership between ESA and Switzerland with additional contributions from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
This film examines the nature of exoplanets, the challenge of exoplanet exploration and features the Cheops Science Operations Centre in Geneva, it includes interviews with Didier Queloz, Chair of the Cheops Science Team and 2019 Nobel Physics Laureate, University of Geneva; Willy Benz, Cheops Principal Investigator, University of Bern; and Matthias Beck, Cheops Ground Segment Manager, University of Geneva).
Press Release N° 24–2019
Cheops, ESA’s ‘Characterising Exoplanet Satellite’, is scheduled to be launched on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 09:54 CET on 17 December 2019. Representatives of traditional and social media are invited to apply for accreditation to follow the launch live from ESA’s European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) near Madrid, Spain.