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  • richardmitnick 9:08 am on December 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: European Space Agency (ESA)   

    From ESA: “Johann-Dietrich Wörner to be Director General of ESA” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    8 December 2014

    Today, the Council of the European Space Agency announced the appointment of Johann-Dietrich Woerner as the next Director General of ESA, for a period of four years starting on 1 July 2015.

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    Johann-Dietrich Woerner

    He will succeed Jean-Jacques Dordain, whose term of office ends on 30 June 2015.

    Mr Woerner is currently Chairman of the Executive Board of DLR, the German Aerospace Center.

    Biography:

    Johann-Dietrich Wörner was born in Kassel in 1954. He has been Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since 1 March 2007.

    He studied civil engineering at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, from where he graduated in 1985. In 1982, as part of his studies, he spent two years in Japan, investigating earthquake safety. Until 1990 Wörner worked for the consulting civil engineers König und Heunisch. In 1990 he returned to Darmstadt University, where he was appointed to a professorship in Civil Engineering and took over as Head of the Testing and Research Institute. Before being elected President of the Technische Universität Darmstadt in 1995, he held the position of Dean of the Civil Engineering Faculty.

    Wörner has been honoured with a series of prizes and awards such as the Prize of the Organisation of Friends of the Technische Universität Darmstadt for ‘outstanding scientific performance’. He was also appointed to the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and is a representative of the Technical Sciences Section of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Wörner has received honorary doctorates from the State University New York (USA), the technical universities of Bucharest (Romania) and Mongolia, the Saint Petersburg University for Economics and Finance (Russia), and École Centrale Lyon (France). He has been honoured by the German state of Hesse and the French government.

    Wörner is Vice President of the Helmholtz Association; he is also a member of various national and international supervisory bodies, advisory councils and committees. He was a member of the board of École Centrale Paris and École Centrale Lyon, the Convention for Technical Sciences (acatech) and the supervisory board of Röhm GmbH, to name just a few. Furthermore, he was appointed to the energy expert group of the German Government. He continues to be a member of the advisory boards of several universities such as the Technische Universität Berlin and the IST Lisboa.

    See the full article here.

    See thr biography here.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 6:18 am on December 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Cassini’s view of Jupiter’s southern hemisphere” 

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    European Space Agency

    08/12/2014

    This Cassini image shows Jupiter from an unusual perspective. If you were to float just beneath the giant planet and look directly up, you would be greeted with this striking sight: red, bronze and white bands encircling a hazy south pole. The multicoloured concentric layers are broken in places by prominent weather systems such as Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot, visible towards the upper left, chaotic patches of cloud and pale white dots. Many of these lighter patches contain lightning-filled thunderstorms.

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    NASA Cassini Spacecraft
    NASA/Cassini

    Jupiter has very dramatic weather – the planet’s axis is not as tilted (towards or away from the Sun) as much as Earth’s so it does not have significant seasonal changes, but it does have a thick and tumultuous atmosphere filled with raging storms and chaotic cloud systems.

    These clouds, formed from dense layers of ammonia crystals, are tugged, stretched and tangled together by Jupiter’s turbulence and strong winds, creating vortices and hurricane-like storms with wind speeds of up to 360 km per hour.

    The Great Red Spot is actually an anticyclone that has been violently churning for hundreds of years. It was at one stage large enough to contain several Earth-sized planets but recent images from the Hubble Space Telescope show it to be shrinking. There are other similarly striking storms raging in both Jupiter’s cool upper atmosphere and hotter lower layers, including a Great Dark Spot and Oval BA, more affectionately nicknamed Red Spot Jr.

    Jupiter’s south pole is at the very centre of this image, visible as a murky grey-toned circle. This patch is not as detailed as the rest of the planet because Cassini had to peer through a lot more atmospheric haze in the polar region, making it harder to see.

    This polar map is composed of 18 colour images taken by the narrow-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during a flyby on 11–12 December 2000. This map is incredibly detailed; the smallest visible features in this image are about 120 km across. There is also an accompanying map of the planet’s north pole. In 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter and start to beam back images of the planet’s poles.

    The Cassini–Huygens mission, launched in 1997 as a joint endeavour of ESA, NASA and Italy’s ASI space agency, flew past Venus, Earth and Jupiter en route to observe Saturn, its moons and rings. Observations with Cassini have given us an unprecedented understanding of the Saturnian system. ESA’s Juice mission aims to do the same for Jupiter. Planned for launch in 2022, the spacecraft will reach Jupiter in 2030 and begin observing the planet and three of its moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. Previous flybys of these moons have raised the exciting prospect that some of them might harbour subsurface liquid oceans and conditions suitable to support some forms of life.

    Juice was recently given the green light to continue to the next stage of development.

    ESA JUICE

    See the full article here.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 5:36 pm on December 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , European Space Agency (ESA), NASA SOHO   

    From ESA: “Comet ISON disintegrates” 

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    European Space Agency

    01/12/2014
    No Writer Credit
    ESA/NASA

    Some had hoped comet ISON would be the comet of the century, lighting Earth’s skies during the latter months of 2013. Instead, it was barely visible for ground-based observers, but the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) had a ring-side seat to watch its disintegration.

    is
    This new view of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) was taken with the TRAPPIST national telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory on the morning of Friday 15 November 2013. Comet ISON was first spotted in our skies in September 2012, and will make its closest approach to the Sun in late November 2013.

    ESO TRAPPIST telescope
    ESO Trappist Interior
    ESO/Trappist national telescope

    ESO LaSilla Long View
    ESO/LaSilla

    TRAPPIST has been monitoring comet ISON since mid-October, using broad-band filters like those used in this image. It has also been using special narrow-band filters which isolate the emission of various gases, allowing astronomers to count how many molecules of each type are released by the comet.

    Comet ISON was fairly quiet until 1 November 2013, when a first outburst doubled the amount of gas emitted by the comet. On 13 November, just before this image was taken, a second giant outburst shook the comet, increasing its activity by a factor of ten. It is now bright enough to be seen with a good pair of binoculars from a dark site, in the morning skies towards the East. Over the past couple of nights, the comet has stabilised at its new level of activity.

    These outbursts were caused by the intense heat of the Sun reaching ice in the tiny nucleus of the comet as it zooms toward the Sun, causing the ice to sublimate and throwing large amounts of dust and gas into space. By the time ISON makes its closest approach to the Sun on 28 November (at only 1.2 million kilometres from its surface — just a little less than the diameter of the Sun!), the heat will cause even more ice to sublimate. However, it could also break the whole nucleus down into small fragments, which would completely evaporate by the time the comet moves away from the Sun’s intense heat. If ISON survives its passage near the Sun, it could then become spectacularly bright in the morning sky.

    The image is a composite of four different 30-second exposures through blue, green, red, and near-infrared filters. As the comet moved in front of the background stars, these appear as multiple coloured dots.
    TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) is devoted to the study of planetary systems through two approaches: the detection and characterisation of planets located outside the Solar System (exoplanets), and the study of comets orbiting around the Sun. The 60-cm national telescope is operated from a control room in Liège, Belgium, 12 000 km away.

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    This image is a montage spanning three days from 28–30 November 2013. The comet enters the image at the lower right, passes round the Sun and exits the frame towards the upper right. The bright star to the lower left is the red supergiant star Antares.

    Astronomers had been tracking the comet for more than a year as it edged closer to the Sun, and by late November it had passed into the field of view of SOHO’s LASCO C3 camera. It was to skim the Sun, just 1 165 000 km above the fiery surface.

    NASA SOHO
    NASA/SOHO

    This is approximately 50 times closer to the Sun than innermost planet Mercury, and the comet was officially termed a ‘sungrazer’. If it survived the encounter it was expected to become extremely bright and be a well-placed object, visible to the naked eye in Earth’s night sky.

    Calculations based on its orbit show that ISON began its journey towards the Sun about 3 million years ago, dislodged from its distant orbit by a passing star. Now, its fate would be sealed within days.

    On 27 November, the comet brightened dramatically by a factor of about ten. Yet just before it reached closest approach to the Sun, it began to fade. This was a strong indicator that the heart of the comet, the icy nucleus, had broken up. Many expected it would disperse completely but, at first, it looked as if they were wrong.

    Comet ISON appeared to survive the close approach, emerging on the other side of the Sun. Some still hoped for a bright display in the night skies. But they were to be disappointed. Quickly, the comet began to disappear. A recent analysis of SOHO data showed that the nucleus had indeed disintegrated just before closest approach to the Sun. Nothing appreciable was left of it, just a lot of dust and vapour.

    The disintegration of comet ISON provided scientists with an exceptional chance to see a comet inside and out. Another rare opportunity is being provided by comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft caught up with this comet early in August 2014 and deployed the lander Philae to the surface in November. The orbiter will accompany comet 67P/C-G along its orbit and through its closest approach to the Sun, which takes it between the orbits of Mars and Earth. While this comet is unlikely to suffer the same fate as comet ISON, it will provide an unsurpassed insight into the nature of comets.

    p67

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    ESA/Rosetta

    ESA Rosetta Philae Lander

    See the full article here.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 5:45 pm on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA European Service Module, European Space Agency (ESA)   

    From ESA: “European Service Module gets real” 

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    European Space Agency

    26 Nov 2014
    Daniel

    On 17 November, ESA signed a contract in Berlin with the Airbus Defence and Space division to develop and build the European Service Module for Orion, NASA’s new crewed spacecraft. It is the first time that Europe will provide system-critical elements for an American space transportation vehicle.

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    Credits: NASA

    NASA Orion Spacecraft
    NASA Orion spacecraft

    NASA intends to use this service module for the 2017 unmanned flight of Orion. The vehicle will perform a high-altitude orbital mission around the Moon. This flight will be a precursor for future Orion human space exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

    The official name of Orion is ‘Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle’, because the spacecraft can be used to conduct different missions. Eventually, NASA will use Orion to send astronauts to Mars.

    The design of the European Service Module (ESM) is based on the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the European supply craft for the International Space Station. It is a major achievement, as this is the first European development of a human spacecraft operating beyond Earth orbit.

    ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle
    ESA ATV

    “Being selected by NASA to develop critical elements for the Orion project – currently their most important exploration project – is a clear recognition of Europe’s performance in the frame of the ATV programme,” says Nico Dettmann, Head of ESA’s Space Transportation Department.

    “Cooperation with NASA is going well. It is fruitful and is happening with the same good spirit as with the International Space Station partnership,” he adds.

    The ESM is a cylindrical module with a diameter of 4.5 metres and a total length – main engine excluded – of 2.7 metres. It is fitted with four solar array ‘wings’ with a span of 18.8 metres. Its dry mass is 3.5 metric tons and it can carry 8.6 tons of propellant. Besides propulsion and power, ESM carries consumables.

    The Critical Design Review (CDR) is planned for 2015.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:30 am on November 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Earth from Space: Big data from space” 

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    European Space Agency

    Discover more about our planet with the Earth from Space video programme. In this special edition, Nicolaus Hanowski, Head of Ground Segments and Operations under ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes Directorate, joins the show to talk about ‘big data’ from space.

    Watch, enjoy, learn

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:00 pm on September 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European Space Agency (ESA),   

    From ESA: “Europe’s New Age of Metals Begins” 

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    European Space Agency

    10 September 2014
    No Writer Credit

    ESA has joined forces with other leading research institutions and more than 180 European companies in a billion-euro effort developing new types of metals and manufacturing techniques for this century.

    Known as Metallurgy Europe, the seven-year international research and development programme was launched at London’s Science Museum on Tuesday.

    “We’ll be laying the technical foundations for the discovery of new materials – metallic compounds, alloys, composites, superconductors and semiconductors,” explained Prof. David Jarvis, Head of Strategic and Emerging Technologies at ESA and Chairman of Metallurgy Europe.

    “We’ll also be applying computer modelling to guide our alloy creation, as well as advanced manufacturing techniques, such as additive manufacturing or 3D printing, for the creation of new products.”

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    Prof. David Jarvis

    From the Iron Age to the Nuclear Age, metallurgy has been a driving force in human history. The various branches of the metals-related industry today accounts for 46% of the EU’s manufacturing value and 11% of its total Gross Domestic Product – equivalent to €1.3 trillion annually or €3.5 billion daily.

    Metallurgy Europe is conservatively projected to create at least 100 000 new jobs, based on the 10 million people today employed by the metals and end-user industries across the EU plus Switzerland and Norway.

    Organised along 13 topics, the potential results include novel heat-resistant alloys for space and nuclear systems, high-efficiency power lines based on superconducting alloys, thermoelectric materials converting waste heat into power, new catalysts for the production of plastics and pharmaceuticals, bio-compatible metals for medical implants, as well as high-strength magnetic systems.

    3d
    3D-printed aeronautics demonstrator

    Lightweight alloys and composites for the aerospace and automotive industries could potentially slash the weight of spacecraft components, as well as reduce today’s two-tonne cars by more than half.

    “The periodic table gives us around 60 commercial metal elements,” Prof. Jarvis explained. “In the world of materials it’s the mixing of these different chemical elements that is vital to us: we hardly use pure metals but we do use compounds, alloys and composites.”

    nc
    Nano-catalyst

    A standard laptop might combine more than 20 different metal elements, while putting a spacecraft into orbit typically incorporates upwards of 50 elements, including the rocket, the satellite and all its subsystems, its electronics and the functional materials that go in there.

    “You’ve got those 60 elements and you can mix them in so many different ways,” he added. “The actual number of combinations and ratios of mixing elements is infinite – we’ve only really scratched the surface.”

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    Tellurium metal

    The Metallurgy Europe programme is being organised as a ‘Cluster’ of the EUREKA network. EUREKA is a long-established intergovernmental organisation uniting more than 40 governments, including virtually all the member states of the EU.

    EUREKA Clusters are long-term, strategically significant public-private partnerships, working with Europe’s leading companies to develop competitive-boosting technologies.

    “Metallurgy Europe adopts a bottom-up, multi-sector approach. The topics being tackled come from what industry wants and society needs in the next decade or so.”

    More than 180 industrial partners have signed up, including some of the largest engineering companies in the continent: Airbus Group, BP, Siemens, Daimler, Rolls-Royce, Thales, AvioAero, BAE Systems, Philips, Ruag, Bombardier, Linde Group, Rolex, Richemont, ArcelorMittal, Sandvik, Bruker, Johnson Matthey, Tata Steel, Boston Scientific, ThyssenKrupp, Outokumpu, Hydro Aluminium and Fiat, along with small and medium firms.

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    Semi-metallic bismuth crystal

    Leading research organisations including ESA, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Institut Laue-Langevin, the European Powder Metallurgy Association and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy are also lending their expertise.

    The projects making up the programme will begin next year, although preparatory work has already begun.

    “The amount of money invested and the size of our support network makes us the largest consortium of its type in metallic materials and advanced manufacturing,” Prof. Jarvis concluded. “It stands us in good stead to be the front runner in this field for quite some time.”

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:00 am on September 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: ESA’s Bug-eyed Telescope to Spot Risky Asteroids 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    10 September 2014
    Gian Maria Pinna
    SSA Ground Segment Manager
    Email: GianMaria.Pinna@esa.int
    Tel: +49 6151 902669

    Spotting Earth-threatening asteroids is tough partly because the sky is so big. But insects offer an answer, since they figured out long ago how to look in many directions at once.

    As part of the global effort to hunt out risky celestial objects such as asteroids and comets, ESA is developing an automated telescope for nightly sky surveys.

    This telescope is the first in a future network that would completely scan the sky and automatically identify possible new near-Earth objects, or NEOs, for follow up and later checking by human researchers.

    But a web of traditional telescopes would be complex and expensive because of the number required. Adding to the problem, the system must be able to discover objects many times fainter than the naked eye can perceive.

    While no network can spot all potentially hazardous objects, under favourable conditions it should detect everything down to about 40 m in diameter at least three weeks before impact.

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    Fly-eye One telescope, 16 lenses

    The answer is a new, European telescope nicknamed ‘fly-eye’ that splits the image into 16 smaller subimages to expand the field of view, similar to the technique exploited by a fly’s compound eye.

    The design is modular, and allows for mass and cheaper production and lower maintenance costs. It will be used to build the prototype, to be fielded by ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme early next year.

    “This novel technology is key to the future NEO survey network,” says Gian Maria Pinna of the SSA office.

    These fly-eyed survey telescopes offer performance equivalent to a 1 m-diameter telescope, and provide a very large field of view: 6.7° x 6.7° or about 45 square degrees; 6.7° is about 13 times the diameter of the Moon as seen from the Earth.

    “The new telescopes would provide the resolution necessary to determine the orbits of any detected objects,” says Gian Maria.

    “If the prototype confirms the expected performance, it will pave the way to full procurement and deployment of the operational network of telescopes.”

    This summer, ESA signed a contract for about €1 million with a consortium led by CGS S.p.A (Italy), comprising Creotech Instruments S.A. (Poland), SC EnviroScopY SRL (Romania) and Pro Optica S.A. (Romania) for the detailed design of the advanced telescope.

    It is expected that the detailed design will be followed by several additional contracts with European companies valued at up to €10 million for building and deploying the first survey prototype telescope.

    “The development of the first optical sensor specific to ESA’s NEO search and discovery activities is a fundamental step toward Europe’s contribution to safeguarding our planet from possible collisions by dangerous objects,” notes Nicolas Bobrinsky, Head of the SSA Programme.

    See the full article, with video, here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:26 am on July 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA Euronews: The E-ELT 

    Here is a neat video, about 8 minutes, from Euronews and ESA about ESO’s E-ELT

    Enjoy and learn.


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  • richardmitnick 9:12 am on July 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Bizarre nearby blast mimics Universe’s most ancient stars” 

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    European Space Agency

    11 July 2014
    Markus Bauer
    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
    Tel: +31 71 565 6799
    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
    Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

    Luigi Piro
    Istituto Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, INAF
    Rome, Italy
    Tel: +39 06 4993 4007
    Email: Luigi.Piro@iaps.inaf.it

    Eleonora Troja
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    Tel: +1 301 286 0941
    Email: Eleonora.Troja@nasa.gov

    Norbert Schartel
    XMM-Newton Project Scientist
    Tel: +34 91 8131 184
    Email: Norbert.Schartel@sciops.esa.int

    ESA’s XMM-Newton observatory has helped to uncover how the Universe’s first stars ended their lives in giant explosions.

    blast

    ESA XMM Newton
    ESA/XMM-Newton

    Astronomers studied the gamma-ray burst GRB130925A – a flash of very energetic radiation streaming from a star in a distant galaxy 5.6 billion light years from Earth – using space- and ground-based observatories.

    They found the culprit producing the burst to be a massive star, known as a blue supergiant. These huge stars are quite rare in the relatively nearby Universe where GRB130925A is located, but are thought to have been very common in the early Universe, with almost all of the very first stars having evolved into them over the course of their short lives.

    But unlike other blue supergiants we see nearby, GRB130925A’s progenitor star contained very little in the way of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. The same was true for the first stars to form in the Universe, making GRB130925A a remarkable analogue for similar explosions that occurred just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

    “There have been several theoretical studies predicting what a gamma-ray burst produced by a primordial star would look like,” says Luigi Piro of the Istituto Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali in Rome, Italy, and lead author of a new paper appearing in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “With our discovery, we’ve shown that these predictions are likely to be correct.”

    Astronomers believe that primordial stars were very large, perhaps several hundred times the mass of the Sun. This large bulk then fuelled ultralong gamma-ray bursts lasting several thousand seconds, up to a hundred times the length of a ‘normal’ gamma-ray burst.

    Indeed, GRB130925A had a very long duration of around 20 000 seconds, but it also exhibited additional peculiar features not previously spotted in a gamma-ray burst: a hot cocoon of gas emitting X-ray radiation and a strangely thin wind.

    Both of these phenomena allowed astronomers to implicate a blue supergiant as the stellar progenitor. Crucially, they give information on the proportion of the star composed of elements other than hydrogen and helium, elements that astronomers group together under the term ‘metals’.

    After the Big Bang, the Universe was dominated by hydrogen and helium and therefore the first stars that formed were very metal-poor. However, these first stars made heavier elements via nuclear fusion and scattered them throughout space as they evolved and exploded.

    This process continued as each new generation of stars formed, and thus stars in the nearby Universe are comparatively metal-rich.

    Finding GRB130925A’s progenitor to be a metal-poor blue supergiant is significant, offering the chance to explore an analogue of one of those very first stars at close quarters. Dr Piro and his colleagues speculate that it might have formed out of a pocket of primordial gas that somehow survived unaltered for billions of years.

    As a nearby counterpart, however, GRB130925A has offered astronomers the opportunity to gain some insight into these first stars today.

    “XMM-Newton’s space-based location and sensitive X-ray instruments were key to observing the later stages of this blast, several months after it first appeared,” says ESA’s XMM-Newton project scientist Norbert Schartel.

    “At these times, the fingerprints of the progenitor star were clearer, but the source itself was so dim that only XMM-Newton’s instruments were sensitive enough to take the detailed measurements needed to characterise the explosion.”

    A number of space- and ground-based missions were involved in the discovery and characterisation of GRB130925A. Alongside the XMM-Newton observations, the astronomers involved in this study also used X-ray data gathered at different times with <a href="“>NASA’s SwiftBurst Alert Telescope, and radio data from the CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array.

    NASA SWIFT Telescope
    NASA/SWIFT

    CSIRO Australia Compact Array
    Australia Compact Array

    “Combining these observations was crucial to get a full picture of this event,” added Eleonora Troja of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA, a co-author of the paper.

    “This new understanding of GRB130925A means that we now have strong indications how a primordial explosion might look — and therefore what to search for in the distant Universe,” says Dr Schartel.

    The search will require powerful facilities. The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, an infrared successor to the Hubble Space Telescope due for launch in 2018, and ESA’s planned Athena mission, a large X-ray observatory following on from XMM-Newton in 2028, will both have key roles to play.

    NASA Webb Telescope
    NASA/Webb

    ESA Athena spacecraft
    ESA’s planned Athena spacecraft

    See the full article, with notes, here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 6:01 am on June 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , European Space Agency (ESA)   

    From ESA: “Whale of a Target – Harpooning Space Debris 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    24 June 2014
    No Writer credit

    Faced with the challenge of capturing tumbling satellites to clear key orbits, ESA is considering turning to an ancient terrestrial technology: the harpoon.

    Used since the Stone Age, first to spear fish and later to catch whales, the humble harpoon is being looked at for snagging derelict space hardware.

    Decades of launches have left Earth surrounded by a halo of space junk: more than 17 000 trackable objects larger than a coffee cup, threatening working missions with catastrophic collision. Even a 1 cm nut could slam into a valuable satellite with the force of a hand grenade.

    sys
    Harpoon system

    The only way to control the debris cloud across crucial lower orbits – like those that allow observation satellites to go on monitoring our planet at the same local time of day – is to remove large items such as derelict satellites and rocket upper stages.

    These uncontrolled multitonne objects are time bombs: sooner or later they will be involved in a collision. That is, if they don’t explode earlier due to leftover fuel or partially charged batteries heated up by sunlight.
    Space debris around Earth

    The resulting debris clouds would make these vital orbits much more hazardous and expensive to use, and follow-on collisions may eventually trigger a chain reaction of break-ups.

    debris
    Space debris around Earth

    To avoid this outcome, ESA’s Clean Space initiative is working on the e.DeOrbit mission for flight in 2021. Its sophisticated sensors and autonomous control will identify and home in on a target – potentially of several tonnes and tumbling uncontrollably.

    catch
    Harpoon used to capture a satellite

    Then comes the challenge of capturing and securing it. Several different solutions have been considered, including a throw-net, clamping mechanisms, robotic arms – and a tethered harpoon.

    The harpoon concept has already undergone initial investigations by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, UK.

    Harpoons rely on three physical actions to ensure safe and clean grasping: a high-energy impact into the target, piercing the structure and then reeling it in.
    Harpoon for whaling

    A prototype harpoon was shot into representative satellite material to assess its penetration, its strength as the target is pulled close and the generation of additional fragments that might threaten the e.DeOrbit satellite.

    As a next step, ESA plans to build and test a prototype ‘breadboard’ version in the hope of adopting the harpoon and its ejection mechanism for the mission.

    The project will investigate all three stages of harpooning through computer models, analysis and experiments, leading to a full hardware demonstration.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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