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Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May has teamed up with asteroid researchers to investigate striking similarities and a puzzling difference between separate bodies explored by space probes. The research team ran a supercomputer-based ‘fight club’ involving simulated large asteroid collisions to probe the objects’ likely origins. Their work is reported in Nature Communications.
While carbon dioxide is more abundant in the atmosphere and therefore more commonly associated with global warming, methane is around 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas. Given its importance, Canadian company GHGSat have worked in collaboration with the Sentinel-5P team at SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research to investigate hotspots of methane emissions during COVID-19.
After celebrating the 50th anniversary of the European space cooperation in 2014, we now mark 45 years since the signing of the Convention for the creation of a single European Space Agency on 30 May 1975.
Week in images: 25-29 May 2020
Discover our week through the lens
Press Release N° 9–2020
ESA and the European Commission invite media representatives to follow an online event on 5 June at 11:00 CEST where they will present the ‘Rapid Action Coronavirus Earth observation’ dashboard, also known as RACE. The RACE platform provides access to key environmental, economic and social indicators to measure the impact of the coronavirus lockdown and monitor post-lockdown recovery.
ESA’s Solar Orbiter will cross through the tails of Comet ATLAS during the next few days. Although the recently launched spacecraft was not due to be taking science data at this time, mission experts have worked to ensure that the four most relevant instruments will be switched on during the unique encounter.
Join us on Wednesday 3 June for a live streamed conversation with European experts on how space can help with post-millennials’ education and social lives.
The second node in the most sophisticated laser communication network ever designed is ready to go into service.
Dubbed the “SpaceDataHighway”, the European Data Relay System (EDRS) helps Earth-observing satellites to transmit large quantities of potentially life-saving data to Europe in near-real time.
Its second satellite, EDRS-C, has now completed its in-orbit commissioning review and is ready to start service.
Workers are returning to Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana to resume preparations for Vega and Ariane 5 launches. Construction of the new Ariane 6 launch pad has also restarted.
COVID-19 lockdown measures introduced in March meant that all but safety-critical operations were suspended at the Spaceport and the vast site had to be secured. Strict new safety and hygiene procedures have now been introduced. Launch teams returning from mainland Europe will spend two weeks in quarantine.
Vega is due to return to flight this summer on its first rideshare mission dedicated to small satellites using a new dispenser called the Small Spacecraft Mission Service.
A-roll contains a new interview with ESA’s Director of Space Transportation, Daniel Neuenschwander, March 2020 drone video of the Ariane 6 launch pad, recently shot phone footage of COVID-19 safety measures and a rare tour underground of the new Ariane 6 launch facilities.
B-roll also contains further smartphone footage of the Spaceport and additional drone and helicopter footage of the Kourou facilities.
ESA’s largest antenna test facility remains operational despite the COVID-19 pandemic, performing pre-flight testing for the latest satellite in a constellation to serve the internet of things.
With most European states in lockdown because of COVID-19, ESA has continued to operate its space missions. Scientific, exploration, Earth observation, climate and technology testbed satellites are continuing to produce data and provide vital services.
Since early March, the majority of the workforce at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, have been working from home. But despite the constraints this involves, mission controllers have overseen complex manoeuvres and procedures. These have included testing a laser space communications system, space debris avoidance manoeuvres, a dramatic Earth flyby and even recovering a spacecraft after it experienced a major power failure.
This video includes Skype interviews with mission controllers in their home offices, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes and smartphone footage shot in the empty corridors of ESOC.
The Artemis programme is bringing humans back to the Moon. It depends heavily on NASA's Orion spacecraft that consists of a crew module and the European Service Module, which will provide propulsion, life support, environmental control and electrical power. Main contractor Airbus has just been green-lighted by ESA to develop a third European Service Module.
This A&B Roll highlights the Artemis programme and development of the European Service Module, using cleanroom footage and animation, with interviews in English and German.
It’s official: when astronauts land on the Moon in 2024 they will get there with help from the European Service Module. The European Space Agency signed a contract with Airbus to build the third European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will ferry the next astronauts to land on the Moon.
The formation of the Sun, the Solar System and the subsequent emergence of life on Earth may be a consequence of a collision between our galaxy, the Milky Way, and a smaller galaxy called Sagittarius, discovered in the 1990s to be orbiting our galactic home.
Launched in 2013, ESA’s Gaia satellite has been scanning the sky to measure the positions, distances and motions of more than one billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The goal of the mission is to create the most detailed galactic map ever made, in order to investigate the Milky Way’s past and future history like never before.
This animation shows the satellite as it scans great circles around the sky. Eventually, the sky is unfolded to reveal the view of the Milky Way and neighbouring galaxies, based on measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars from the second Gaia data release. The map shows the total brightness and colour of stars observed by Gaia in each portion of the sky between July 2014 and May 2016.
Brighter regions indicate denser concentrations of especially bright stars, while darker regions correspond to patches of the sky where fewer bright stars are observed. In the middle of the image, the Galactic centre appears vivid and teeming with stars.
Sprinkled across the image are also many globular and open clusters – groupings of stars held together by their mutual gravity, as well as entire galaxies beyond our own. The two bright objects in the lower right of the image are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way.
The animation ends with a pan over the Galactic plane, the bright horizontal structure that hosts most of the stars in our home Galaxy. Darker regions across the Galactic plane correspond to foreground clouds of interstellar gas and dust, which absorb the light of stars located further away, behind the clouds. Many of these conceal stellar nurseries where new generations of stars are being born.
The all-sky image from the second Gaia data release, published on 25 April 2018, is available here.
As part of ESA’s continuing commitment to realise cutting-edge satellite missions to advance the scientific understanding of our planet and to show how new technologies can be used in space, a new Call for Earth Explorer mission ideas has been released today.