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  • richardmitnick 1:54 pm on December 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "These Are The Most Distant Astronomical Objects In The Known Universe", , , , , , , ESA-Space for Europe, , , , , Our most distant “standard candle” for probing the Universe is SN UDS10Wil located 17 billion light-years (Gly), , , ,   

    From Ethan Siegel: “These Are The Most Distant Astronomical Objects In The Known Universe” 

    From Ethan Siegel
    Dec 30, 2019

    Astronomy’s enduring quest is to go farther, fainter, and more detailed than ever before. Here’s the edge of the cosmic frontier.

    1
    The distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1 is gravitationally lensed by a foreground cluster, allowing it to be imaged at high resolution and in multiple instruments, even without next-generation technology.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    This galaxy’s light comes to us from 530 million years after the Big Bang, but the stars within it are at least 280 million years old. It is the second-most distant galaxy with a spectroscopically confirmed distance, placing it 30.7 billion light-years away from us. (ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE, W. ZHENG (JHU), M. POSTMAN (STSCI), THE CLASH TEAM, HASHIMOTO ET AL.)

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Astronomers have always sought to push back the viewable distance frontiers.

    2
    Although there are magnified, ultra-distant, very red and even infrared galaxies in the eXtreme Deep Field, there are galaxies that are even more distant out there than what we’ve discovered in our deepest-to-date views. These galaxies will always remain visible to us, but we will never see them as they are today: 13.8 billion years after the Big Bang. (NASA, ESA, R. BOUWENS AND G. ILLINGWORTH (UC, SANTA CRUZ))

    More distant galaxies appear fainter, smaller, bluer, and less evolved overall.

    3
    Galaxies comparable to the present-day Milky Way are numerous, but younger galaxies that are Milky Way-like are inherently smaller, bluer, more chaotic, and richer in gas in general than the galaxies we see today. For the first galaxies of all, this ought to be taken to the extreme, and remains valid as far back as we’ve ever seen. The exceptions, when we encounter them, are both puzzling and rare. (NASA AND ESA)

    Milky Way NASA/JPL-Caltech /ESO R. Hurt. The bar is visible in this image

    Laniakea supercluster. From Nature The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies R. Brent Tully, Hélène Courtois, Yehuda Hoffman & Daniel Pomarède at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v513/n7516/full/nature13674.html. Milky Way is the red dot.

    Individual planets and stars are only known relatively nearby, as our tools cannot take us farther.

    Local Group. Andrew Z. Colvin 3 March 2011

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    A massive cluster (left) magnified a distant star known as Icarus more than 2,000 times, making it visible from Earth (lower right) even though it is 9 billion light years away, far too distant to be seen individually with current telescopes. It was not visible in 2011 (upper right). The brightening leads us to believe that this was a blue supergiant star, formally named MACS J1149 Lensed Star 1. (NASA, ESA, AND P. KELLY (UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA))

    As the 2010s end, here are our presently known most distant astronomical objects.

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    The ultra-distant supernova SN UDS10Wil, shown here, is the farthest type Ia supernova ever discovered, whose light arrives today from a position 17 billion light-years away.

    A white dwarf fed by a normal star reaches the critical mass and explodes as a type Ia supernova. Credit: NASA/CXC/M Weiss

    Type Ia supernovae are used as distance indicators because of their standard intrinsic brightnesses, and are some of our strongest evidence for the accelerated expansion best explained by dark energy.

    Standard Candles to measure age and distance of the universe from supernovae NASA

    (NASA, ESA, A. RIESS (STSCI AND JHU), AND D. JONES AND S. RODNEY (JHU))

    The farthest type Ia supernova, our most distant “standard candle” for probing the Universe, is SN UDS10Wil, located 17 billion light-years (Gly) away.

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    This illustration of superluminous supernova SN 1000+0216, the most distant supernova ever observed at a redshift of z=3.90, from when the Universe was just 1.6 billion years old, is the current record-holder for individual supernovae. Unlike SN UDS10Wil, this supernova is a Type II (core collapse) supernova, and may have formed via the pair instability mechanism, which would explain its extraordinarily large intrinsic brightness. (ADRIAN MALEC AND MARIE MARTIG (SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY))

    The most distant supernova of all, 2012’s superluminous SN 1000+0216, occurred 23 Gly away.

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    The most distant X-ray jet in the Universe, from quasar GB 1428, sends us light from when the Universe was a mere 1.25 billion years old: less than 10% its current age. This jet comes from electrons heating CMB photons, and is over 230,000 light-years in extent: approximately double the size of the Milky Way. (X-RAY: NASA/CXC/NRC/C.CHEUNG ET AL; OPTICAL: NASA/STSCI; RADIO: NSF/NRAO/VLA)

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky Expanded Very Large Array, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    The most distant quasar jet, revealed by GB 1428+4217’s X-rays, is 25.4 Gly distant.

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    This image of ULAS J1120+0641, a very distant quasar powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun, was created from images taken from surveys made by both the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey.

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, near Sunspot NM, USA, Altitude2,788 meters (9,147 ft)


    UKIRT, located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i, USA as part of Mauna Kea Observatory,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    The quasar appears as a faint red dot close to the centre. This quasar was the most distant one known from 2011 until 2017, and is seen as it was just 745 million years after the Big Bang. It is the most distant quasar with a visual image available to be viewed by the public. (ESO/UKIDSS/SDSS)

    The first discovered object whose light exceeds 13 billion years in age, quasar ULAS J1120+0641, is 28.8 Gly away.

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    This artist’s concept shows the most distant quasar and the most distant supermassive black hole powering it. At a redshift of 7.54, ULAS J1342+0928 corresponds to a distance of some 29.32 billion light-years; it is the most distant quasar/supermassive black hole ever discovered. Its light arrives at our eyes today, in the radio part of the spectrum, because it was emitted just 686 million years after the Big Bang. (ROBIN DIENEL/CARNEGIE INSTITUTION FOR SCIENCE)

    However, quasar ULAS J1342+0928 is even farther at 29.32 Gly: our most distant black hole.

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    This illustration of the most distant gamma-ray burst ever detected, GRB 090423, is thought to be typical of most fast gamma-ray bursts. When one or two objects violently form a black hole, such as from a neutron star merger, a brief burst of gamma rays followed by an infrared afterglow (when we’re lucky) allows us to learn more about these events. The gamma rays from this event lasted just 10 seconds, but Nial Tanvir and his team found an infrared afterglow using the UKIRT telescope just 20 minutes after the burst, allowing them to determine a redshift (z=8.2) and distance (29.96 billion light-years) to great precision. (ESO/A. ROQUETTE)

    Gamma-ray bursts exceed even that; GRB 090423’s verified light comes from 29.96 Gly away in the distant Universe, while GRB 090429B might’ve been even farther.

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    Here, candidate galaxy UDFj-39546284 appears very faint and red, and from the colors it displays, it has an inferred redshift of 10, giving it an age below 500 million years and a distance greater than 31 billion light-years. Without spectroscopic confirmation, however, this and similar galaxies cannot reliably be said to have a known distance; more data is needed, as photometric redshifts are notoriously unreliable. (NASA, ESA, G. ILLINGWORTH (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ), R. BOUWENS (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ, AND LEIDEN UNIVERSITY) AND THE HUDF09 TEAM)

    Ultra-distant galaxy candidates abound, including SPT0615-JD, MACS0647-JD, and UDFj-39546284, all lacking spectroscopic confirmation.

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    The most distant galaxy ever discovered in the known Universe, GN-z11, has its light come to us from 13.4 billion years ago: when the Universe was only 3% its current age: 407 million years old. The distance from this galaxy to us, taking the expanding Universe into account, is an incredible 32.1 billion light-years. (NASA, ESA, AND G. BACON (STSCI))

    The most distant galaxy of all is GN-z11, located 32.1 Gly away.

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    The James Webb Space Telescope vs. Hubble in size (main) and vs. an array of other telescopes (inset) in terms of wavelength and sensitivity. It should be able to see the truly first galaxies, even the ones that no other observatory can see. Its power is truly unprecedented. (NASA / JWST SCIENCE TEAM)

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    With the 2020s promising revolutionary new observatories, these records may all soon fall.

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    Our deepest galaxy surveys can reveal objects tens of billions of light years away, but there are more galaxies within the observable Universe we still have yet to reveal between the most distant galaxies and the cosmic microwave background [CMB], including the very first stars and galaxies of all.

    CMB per ESA/Planck

    It is possible that the coming generation of telescopes will break all of our current distance records. (SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY (SDSS))

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    “Starts With A Bang! is a blog/video blog about cosmology, physics, astronomy, and anything else I find interesting enough to write about. I am a firm believer that the highest good in life is learning, and the greatest evil is willful ignorance. The goal of everything on this site is to help inform you about our world, how we came to be here, and to understand how it all works. As I write these pages for you, I hope to not only explain to you what we know, think, and believe, but how we know it, and why we draw the conclusions we do. It is my hope that you find this interesting, informative, and accessible,” says Ethan

     
  • richardmitnick 9:32 am on November 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The foreshock in Earth’s magnetic environment", , , , , ESA-Space for Europe, our planet’s magnetic bow shock   

    European Space Agency – United space in Europe: “The foreshock in Earth’s magnetic environment” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe

    United space in Europe

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    Vlasiator team, University of Helsinki

    In this image, Earth is the dot to the left of the image and the large arc around it is our planet’s magnetic bow shock. The swirling pattern to the right is the foreshock region where the solar wind breaks into waves as it encounters reflected particles from the bow shock. The image was created using the Vlasiator model, a computer simulation developed at the University of Helsinki to study Earth’s magnetic interaction with the solar wind.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    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.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
  • richardmitnick 8:26 am on May 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESA-Space for Europe,   

    From European Southern Observatory: “Pinpointing Gaia to Map the Milky Way” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    2 May 2019

    Calum Turner
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: pio@eso.org

    ESO’s VST [seen below] helps determine the spacecraft’s orbit to enable the most accurate map ever of more than a billion stars.

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    This image, a composite of several observations captured by ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST), shows the ESA spacecraft Gaia as a faint trail of dots across the lower half of the star-filled field of view. These observations were taken as part of an ongoing collaborative effort to measure Gaia’s orbit and improve the accuracy of its unprecedented star map.

    Gaia, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), surveys the sky from orbit to create the largest, most precise, three-dimensional map of our Galaxy.

    ESA/GAIA satellite

    One year ago, the Gaia mission produced its much-awaited second data release, which included high-precision measurements — positions, distance and proper motions — of more than one billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy. This catalogue has enabled transformational studies in many fields of astronomy, addressing the structure, origin and evolution the Milky Way and generating more than 1700 scientific publications since its launch in 2013.

    In order to reach the accuracy necessary for Gaia’s sky maps, it is crucial to pinpoint the position of the spacecraft from Earth. Therefore, while Gaia scans the sky, gathering data for its stellar census, astronomers regularly monitor its position using a global network of optical telescopes, including the VST at ESO’s Paranal Observatory [1]. The VST is currently the largest survey telescope observing the sky in visible light, and records Gaia’s position in the sky every second night throughout the year.

    “Gaia observations require a special observing procedure,” explained Monika Petr-Gotzens, who has coordinated the execution of ESO’s observations of Gaia since 2013. “The spacecraft is what we call a ‘moving target’, as it is moving quickly relative to background stars — tracking Gaia is quite the challenge!”

    “The VST is the perfect tool for picking out the motion of Gaia,” elaborated Ferdinando Patat, head of the ESO’s Observing Programmes Office. “Using one of ESO’s first-rate ground-based facilities to bolster cutting-edge space observations is a fine example of scientific cooperation.”

    “This is an exciting ground-space collaboration, using one of ESO’s world-class telescopes to anchor the trailblazing observations of ESA’s billion star surveyor,” commented Timo Prusti, Gaia project scientist at ESA.

    The VST observations are used by ESA’s flight dynamics experts to track Gaia and refine the knowledge of the spacecraft’s orbit. Painstaking calibration is required to transform the observations, in which Gaia is just a speck of light among the bright stars, into meaningful orbital information. Data from Gaia’s second release was used to identify each of the stars in the field of view, and allowed the position of the spacecraft to be calculated with astonishing precision — up to 20 milliarcseconds.

    “This is a challenging process: we are using Gaia’s measurements of the stars to calibrate the position of the Gaia spacecraft and ultimately improve its measurements of the stars,” explains Timo Prusti.

    “After careful and lengthy data processing, we have now achieved the accuracy required for the ground-based observations of Gaia to be implemented as part of the orbit determination,” says Martin Altmann, lead of the Ground Based Optical Tracking (GBOT) campaign at the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University, Germany.

    The GBOT information will be used to improve our knowledge of Gaia’s orbit not only in observations to come, but also for all the data that have been gathered from Earth in the previous years, leading to improvements in the data products that will be included in future releases.

    Notes

    [1] This collaboration between ESO and ESA is just one of several cooperative projects which have benefitted from the expertise of both organisations in progressing astronomy and astrophysics. On 20 August 2015, the ESA and ESO Directors General signed a cooperation agreement to facilitate synergy through projects such as these.
    More information

    In order to foster exchanges between astrophysics-related spaceborne missions and ground-based facilities, as well as between their respective communities, ESA and ESO are joining forces to organise a series of international astronomy meetings. The first ESA-ESO joint workshop will take place in November 2019 at ESO and a call for proposals for the second workshop, to take place in 2020 at ESA, is currently open.

    The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

    ESA is an international organisation with 22 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

    ESA’s Gaia satellite was launched in 2013 to create the most precise three-dimensional map of more than one billion stars in the Milky Way. The mission has released two lots of data thus far: Gaia Data Release 1 in 2016 and Gaia Data Release 2 in 2018. More releases will follow in the coming years.

    Links

    ESOblog: How ESO collaborates with ESA
    https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/from-esoblog-how-eso-collaborates-with-esa/

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre EEuropean Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO La Silla HELIOS (HARPS Experiment for Light Integrated Over the Sun)

    ESO/HARPS at La Silla

    ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at Cerro LaSilla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres


    ESO/Cerro LaSilla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    2009 ESO VLTI Interferometer image, Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).

    ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

    Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

    ESO/NTT at Cerro La Silla, Chile, at an altitude of 2400 metres



    Part of ESO’s Paranal Observatory, the VLT Survey Telescope (VISTA) observes the brilliantly clear skies above the Atacama Desert of Chile. It is the largest survey telescope in the world in visible light.
    Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level


    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres


    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    ESO/APEX high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama region, at an altitude of over 4,800 m (15,700 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level


    ESO Speculoos telescopes four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes at ESO Paranal Observatory 2635 metres 8645 ft above sea level

    ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO ExTrA telescopes at Cerro LaSilla at an altitude of 2400 metres

    A novel gamma ray telescope under construction on Mount Hopkins, Arizona. a large project known as the Cherenkov Telescope Array, composed of hundreds of similar telescopes to be situated in the Canary Islands and Chile. The telescope on Mount Hopkins will be fitted with a prototype high-speed camera, assembled at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and capable of taking pictures at a billion frames per second. Credit: Vladimir Vassiliev

     
  • richardmitnick 8:47 am on April 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Steps to make a mission", , , , , ESA-Space for Europe   

    From European Space Agency: “Steps to make a mission” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    ESA is Europe’s space agency in which 22 Member States work together to achieve results that no individual nation can match.

    As one of the few agencies worldwide that operates across the full spectrum of space activities, we don’t do ‘routine’. As an operational research and development agency, each new space mission marks a significant step forward on what has gone before.

    ESA flies the ‘never-done-before’ scientific missions, like Huygens and Rosetta, accepting and managing the risk that no others can assume, to take European scientists where they need to go.

    ESA/Huygens Probe from Cassini landed on Titan

    ESA Rosetta annotated

    We fly the orbiting observatories, like GAIA, XMM-Newton and Integral, that serve researchers worldwide and help humanity understand the fundamental features of our Universe, like galaxies, black holes and gravitational waves.

    ESA/GAIA satellite

    ESA/XMM Newton

    ESA/Integral

    Closer to home, we fly the first-of-a-kind missions that prove the concepts for the development of valuable services for European and global citizens, to be handed over to partners for subsequent development, leaving ESA free to take its next steps into space.

    In future, we plan to fly cutting-edge missions that will monitor our Sun for potentially harmful space weather, prove asteroid deflection techniques and help keep spaceflight sustainable for future generations.

    So how do we plan, make and run new ESA missions?

    Most European citizens assume, with good cause, that ESA missions take shape and fly to their destinations with little worry or bother, as if by effortless magic. Click through the following images to read the true story of how this ‘magic’ really occurs – and become one of the insiders who know how we make it all happen.

    Next part: Investing in the basics of space

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    ESA’s Cheops exoplanet-observing mission during testing inside the Maxwell electromagnetic compatibility chamber.

    Any space mission can only be said to be a success if its results make it back to Earth for use by those who need them. So for instance, Basic Activities also supports ESA’s Earth Observation programme, tasked with providing European researchers and institutional users with standardised access to long-term Earth observation data.

    As the observing capabilities of these missions increases, then the size of available data grows in turn, and the challenge of distributing these data usable in a practical way becomes more daunting. ESA’s response has been cloud-based ‘Thematic Exploitation Platforms’ providing an online environment to access information, processing tools and computing resources for community collaboration.

    Since long-time series of datasets are needed to determine changes in our planet’s climate, it is vital that Earth observation satellite data and other Earth science data are preserved for future generations and are still accessible and usable after many years.

    3
    EDRS relaying Copernicus Sentinel Earth observation data via laser links

    11: Sharing knowledge and keeping Earth’s memory

    Any space mission can only be said to be a success if its results make it back to Earth for use by those who need them. So for instance, Basic Activities also supports ESA’s Earth Observation programme, tasked with providing European researchers and institutional users with standardised access to long-term Earth observation data.

    As the observing capabilities of these missions increases, then the size of available data grows in turn, and the challenge of distributing these data usable in a practical way becomes more daunting. ESA’s response has been cloud-based ‘Thematic Exploitation Platforms’ providing an online environment to access information, processing tools and computing resources for community collaboration.

    Since long-time series of datasets are needed to determine changes in our planet’s climate, it is vital that Earth observation satellite data and other Earth science data are preserved for future generations and are still accessible and usable after many years.

    4
    (Photo: Calculating the deployment of Mars Express’s MARSIS radar antenna)

    2: Investing in the basics of space

    Long-term success comes down to ESA’s ‘Basic Activities’, which amount to the entire mandatory element of the ESA budget, other than the Science Directorate. They are mandatory because they are not only important but essential, a key ingredient in the magic formula behind ESA’s historic achievements.

    Essentially Basic Activities are part of ESA’s ‘membership fee’ but this investment results in solid benefits for Member States, their scientists and their industries, as well the optional ESA programmes – such as Earth observation and exploration missions.

    Basic Activities comprise a portfolio of ESA undertakings that stay invisible most of the time because they simply work – and work well.

    These range from laboratories, ground stations and control facilities to European-wide early-stage technology development efforts, actions to support innovation and standardisation, highly secure networks and IT infrastructure and cybersecurity.

    The global deep-space communication antenna network supported by Basic Activities is second only to NASA’s. Basic Activities also underpins a world-beating array of laboratories and test infrastructure – including the largest satellite test centre in Europe.

    Basic Activities is also the source of intangible assets such as decades of accumulated expertise across an enormous range of skillsets, like highly-precise navigation through the Solar System or testing and developing technologies that will enable Europe’s autonomous access and exploitation of space.

    All these essential resources, supported through Basic Activities, are also at the disposal of those who enable them: ESA Member States, their national agencies and their companies.

    Without them, no ESA mission would fly.

    Next part: First contact with new ideas

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    (Photo: 1.5 tonne lunar base building block, 3D printed with simulated lunar material as part of a Discover & Preparation programme project)
    3: First contact with new ideas

    ESA’s first contact with promising new concepts comes through its Discovery & Preparation activities. The Discovery part is at the entrance of ESA’s innovation pipeline: we use it to peer – together with academia and industry – beyond the immediate planning horizon.

    To take the longest of looks ahead, ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team – a rotating group of PhD researchers – undertakes small research projects into fledging concepts, novel technologies and new approaches to space.

    These allow Europe’s space sector to stay abreast of emerging new capabilities before they become evident. They range from entirely autonomous intelligent spacecraft to nature-mimicking ‘biomimetic’ engineering solutions, light-trapping nanostructures for enhanced solar cells to solar power satellites able to keep Moon rovers alive in frigid lunar darkness.

    ESA is proposing to its Member States methods of radically opening up our early-phase research and development, including the widening of our innovation pipeline to new participants, to draw maximum benefit from the development of the space sector embodied by the ‘New Space’ movement. One way of achieving this is through its new Open Space Innovation Platform, which sources ideas through technical challenges.

    Next part: Mission design

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    4: Mission design
    (Photo: A session at the CDF)

    Satellites designed to work in unknown hostile environments are the ultimate example of ‘form follows function’: no two missions are alike.

    Any initial idea needs fleshing out through the setting of solid requirements: what are all the needs of the mission to best achieve its set goal? Where will it be going in space? What instrumentation payload will it require, how much onboard power is needed and how will its results be returned to Earth?

    Experts must analyse every moment of a mission’s planned journey, from understanding its destination (A comet? An asteroid? A planet?) or fixed orbit (Low-Earth orbit? Geostationary orbit? Or out into deep space?) and selecting its launch vehicle and fixing its precise lift-off time to mapping out all its planned manoeuvres. This all provides vital data for the actual design of the spacecraft and also for the mission control systems and stations on the ground.

    ESA’s BepiColombo mission, for instance, will perform nine planetary flybys to obtain vital gravity boosts before entering Mercury orbit – and each must be mapped out in 3D to just a few kilometres’ accuracy.

    ESA/JAXA Bepicolumbo in flight illustration Artist’s impression of BepiColombo – ESA’s first mission to Mercury. ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be operated from ESOC, Germany

    ESA’s Concurrent Design Facility, based at its technical centre in the Netherlands, gathers teams of experts to perform such ‘pre-Phase A’ studies of proposed missions, using networked systems to work together in real time, establishing a workable set of mission requirements which can then be passed to European industry through ‘invitations to tender’.

    Mission development proceeds in terms of ‘Phase A’ – meaning initial industrial contracts, sometimes undertaken in parallel – to ‘Phase B’ when a single mission design reaches a preliminary buildable form.

    In parallel, ESA specialists in space debris will assess the planned design, ensuring anything set to orbit Earth will be safely disposed of at the end of its mission, complying with debris guidelines and ensuring the continued safety of commercially and scientifically valuable orbits.

    Other teams will ensure spacecraft can make use of specific frequencies for communications, a complex process involving direct liaison with the International Telecommunications Union to comply with international laws and standards and avoid interference with other satellites.

    Next comes ‘Phase C’ when the spacecraft design is finalised, then ‘Phase D’ when it is actually built. ‘Phases E and F’ cover mission operations then finally disposal. ESA teams oversee progress through these phases, working with their industrial partners, with ESA technical experts embedded into each such team.

    Next part: Inventing tomorrow

    7
    (Photo: Next generation solar cell with 30% efficiency)
    5: Inventing tomorrow

    Missions under development or planned of the future require a steady stream of new technologies. ESA channels around 8% of its overall budget into technology R&D but our single most important and influential programmes is the early-stage Technology Development Envelope, supported through Basic Activities.

    This is the Agency’s basic ‘ideas factory’ across all areas of spaceflight, converting promising concepts into working laboratory prototypes, ready to be taken further by follow-on ESA programmes.

    Projects are undertaken by European academia and industry under ESA supervision. Recent examples include an unprecedented 30% more-efficient spacecraft solar cell, an air-breathing engine for low-flying satellites, optical communications to boost data rates from deep space, parachute designs for Mars landings and a satellite whose sole mission is enabling European industry to flight-test innovative software.

    Some technology development projects are undertaken specifically to meet the needs of missions to come, called ‘technology push’, systematically de-risking their development by proving essential elements work as planned.

    Others take place as part of ESA’s cross-cutting initiatives focused on (a) Advanced Manufacturing, for novel materials and production processes, (b) ‘Design 2 Produce’ for digitalization of manufacturing, (c) Clean Space to safeguard the orbital and Earth environments, (d) adopting artificial intelligence and machine learning for innovative mission control techniques that enhance spacecraft and ground-station resource management and the ‘health care’ and diagnostics of the spacecraft and its ground systems, and (e) cybersecurity for secure space systems.

    Next part: Setting standards for space

    8
    (Photo: Space component microsections for quality checks)
    6: Setting standards for space

    When companies manufacture components, systems or entire satellites for space they follow a single technical ‘recipe book’ that ESA helps write and keeps updated.

    We are a leading member of a body called the European Cooperation for Space Standardization, an initiative to develop a single set of user-friendly standards for all European space activities, from project management and parts manufacturing to the testing of both hardware and software.

    This results in continual improvements in the quality, functional integrity and compatibility of all space projects, while reducing costs. It also helps define whole new markets, by ensuring parts from different companies end up being fully interoperable.

    As a practical example of ECSS in effect, the top solderers in Europe receive training in these standards in order to work on ESA missions.

    On the international level, ESA represents Europe in the ‘Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems’ with our international partners. Its technical standards enable true cooperation through interoperability for the benefit of national agencies, established space companies and new commercial space actors.

    Through this committee for instance, ESA’s Mars Express in orbit around the Red Planet can relay data from NASA’s Curiosity rover on the surface, as can ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter. Similarly ESA ground stations can be used to communicate with missions of our partners and vice versa.

    ESA is also the driving force behind the European Space Components Coordination, a set of processes that among other benefits, produces a ‘European Preferred Parts List’ – a regularly updated list of fully-qualified, high-performance parts for use in space. Its existence boosts mission reliability and makes European companies more competitive in global markets.

    Next part: Ground tracking stations

    9
    (Photo: ESA’s New Norcia Deep Space Antenna-1 in Australia)

    7: Ground tracking stations

    ESA’s mission operations infrastructure, funded by all Member States as part of the Agency’s Basic Activities, comprises world-class technology assets that allow ESA to operate its fleet of spacecraft anywhere in that European scientists need to go.

    Included in the infrastructure is a planet-spanning network of tracking stations, dubbed ESTRACK. The essential task of all our stations is to communicate with spacecraft, transmitting commands and receiving scientific data and spacecraft status information.

    This network operates 24 hours per day, year round, and comprises a series of smaller-sized stations to link frequently orbiting Earth missions with ground controllers as well as the ‘big iron’ – three start-of-the-art 35 m-diameter dish antennas that allow ESA to locate and keep in touch with spacecraft that are hundreds of millions of kilometers away from Earth.

    These three are located in Australia, Spain and Argentina, providing 360-degree coverage for missions going virtually anywhere.
    Our technically advanced stations can track spacecraft circling Earth, watching the Sun, orbiting at the scientifically crucial Sun-Earth Lagrange points or voyaging deep into our Solar System.

    All stations are operated centrally from ESA’s ESOC mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, using a sophisticated remote control and automation system to reduce personnel costs and boost efficiency.

    ESA experts ensure that the stations are operated, maintained and upgraded with the latest technology – and that they comply with international data standards (which ESA helps define). This means our stations can support missions from NASA, JAXA and other agencies, and vice versa, reducing cost and risk for all.

    Next part: Europe’s best space labs

    10

    8: Europe’s best space labs

    Mission development is supported not only by specialist technical teams but also through a suite of well-equipped laboratories at ESA establishments, especially ESTEC in the Netherlands, and across Member States. These focus on all aspects of the space environment, materials and component testing, instrumentation and propulsion testing and the development of innovative spaceflight operations tools and techniques, based on the latest artificial/virtual reality tools.

    These unique resources, supported through Basic Activities, include a wide variety of test chambers, a powerful array of microscopes and precision measuring devices, a CT scanner for components, a laser-based simulator recreating the corrosive ‘atomic oxygen’ encountered atop Earth’s atmosphere and the flattest floor in Europe, used for testing microgravity behaviour in two dimensions.

    For missions, the labs check each and every item, instrument and piece of software to be used in space both individually and collectively, verifying their suitability for space by simulating orbital conditions as closely as possible. If an item fails during development or testing – from an individual wire split to a software anomaly – then detailed analysis is performed to find the route cause.

    Test facilities elsewhere at ESA ensure a satellite’s ‘ground segment’ – the complete chain of hardware and software needed on the ground to control a mission in orbit – can be simulated in a safe, offline environment, providing mission teams with ways to test and validate commands and onboard procedures before being sent up to a functioning satellite.

    Next part: Europe’s largest satellite test centre

    9
    (Photo: MetOp-C’s payload module being lowered into ESTEC’s Large Space Simulator)
    9: Europe’s largest satellite test centre

    In the same way that individual components and systems are tested to ensure their readiness for the violence of launch and the vacuum and temperetures extremes of space, the same is true of complete satellites.

    That is the task of a 3000 sq. m cleanroom complex nestled in sandy dunes along the Dutch coast, filled with test equipment to simulate all aspects of spaceflight: the ESTEC Test Centre.

    Its major infrastructure includes Europe’s biggest vacuum chamber, equipped with a Sun simulator with liquid nitrogen run through its walls to reproduce space conditions; Europe’s loudest sound system, used to blast satellites with simulated launch noise and Europe’s most powerful hydraulic shaker table, reproducing launcher vibrations equivalent to a major earthquake.

    Next part: Taking control and staying in touch

    10
    (Photo: ESOC’s main control room)
    10: Taking control and staying in touch

    Once a spacecraft is released from the rocket that boosts it into orbit, the spotlight is onto the men and women controlling the mission from the main control room of ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

    Every mission is assigned a Flight Control Team, comprising engineers and technicians specialising in each of the mission’s technical areas, including attitude and orbit control, power, thermal management and onboard computer systems. They are led by an experienced Spacecraft Operations Manager, and are supported in turn by an extended ‘team of teams’ of experts working in areas such as highly precise flight dynamics, sophisticated software systems and high-tech ground tracking stations.

    They provide oversight for their missions 24 hours per day, year round, using tools, systems and apps developed by European industry for the unforgiving, no-second-chances environment of mission control.

    Many of these experts are sourced from European industry and, for each new mission, everyone must undergo a rigorous, months-long training and simulation campaign to measure the knowledge of each individual and test their combined ability to handle any contingency, whether it occurs just above in Earth orbit or hundreds of millions of kilometres away – when minutes matter and decisions have consequences.

    All this is only possible through the capabilities provided through ESA’s mission operations infrastructure, funded by the Basic Activities resources provided by Member States.

    Flying the spacecraft is made possible through cutting-edge software systems, while operational simulator systems capable of fully simulating the spacecraft and its environment enables team training in advance of the launch and supports them during routine and contingency operations.

    ESA’s Flight Dynamics teams and systems – among the world’s best – are capable of computing highly-precise manoeuvres such as orbital insertion, planetary flybys, collision avoidance manoeuvres and landing operations.

    All this information is fed into the mission control system, which is the primary interface for the flight control team to send commands to their spacecraft and interpret the data sent back from onboard systems.

    Increasingly missions – such as ESA’s Swarm trio, the Cluster quartet and the European Union’s Copernicus Sentinels – are being operated in formations made up of two, three, four or more satellites, making the ongoing task of flight control and flight dynamics highly challenging.

    Finally the mission operations infrastructure also enables vital services such as space debris collision avoidance, precise navigation and safeguards against potentially harmful space weather.

    And ESA share what we know.

    Mission control infrastructure, expertise and know-how are regularly exchanged with partner space agencies – and are increasingly provided to new space actors such as universities and commercial startups planning missions around Earth, to the Moon and beyond.

    Next part: Sharing knowledge and keeping Earth’s memory

    ESA Basic Activities at Space19+

    (Photo: ESA’s Materials and Electrical Components Lab)

    ESA Basic Activities at Space19+

    For ESA’s next Ministerial Council, Space19+, set for the end of this year, the Agency is asking Europe’s space ministers for a substantial investment for its core Basic Activities, helping to support a new generation of space missions as efficiently as possible. ESA’s Basic Activities have three main objectives: to enable the future through early stage research and development, commencing the Agency’s seamless grid of innovation; develop and maintain ESA’s common infrastructure and expertise; and, develop, preserve and disseminate knowledge for European capacity building and sustainable growth – inspiring and promoting creativity.
    Credits: ESA

    ESA Basic Activities at Space19+

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    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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