Tagged: ESA Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 11:46 am on January 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 90% of respondents had a positive view of space activities, , , , , ESA, Europeans estimated the cost of space activities at €245 per year per citizen more than 20 times the actual amount, How much do we think we know about space?, Only 4 out of 10 Europeans felt well informed about European space activities   

    From European Space Agency: “How much do we think we know about space?” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    16 January 2019

    Europeans are undeniably interested in space activities, and the idea of pooling resources between European countries is considered important unanimously by European citizens: just two of the fascinating findings from a recent survey of public perceptions of issues related to space.

    Carried out on behalf of ESA by Harris Interactive in December 2018, the survey questioned over 5000 people aged 18 or older and representative of the public in Europe’s five most populous countries, Germany, UK, France, Spain and Italy.

    The survey found that, almost unanimously, Europeans identified three main uses for space: better understanding the Universe, observing our own planet, for example the effects of climate change, and they recognised the ability to make life on Earth easier, for example in transportation or communications.

    1
    Heard of ESA? This graphic from the Harris Interactive survey report on public perceptions of issues related to space activities shows that on average, 83% of the Europeans interviewed (in UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) had heard of ESA (even though only 37% knew precisely what it is), and the variation of that average by country.

    Fewer people believed that space activities could protect us against threats from space, though almost all agreed this should be a priority. This can be seen as a strong endorsement for the Space Safety elements of the programme proposals being made later this year at our Space19+ conference.

    Disappointingly, only 4 out of 10 Europeans felt well informed about European space activities. While many had heard of European space programmes and ESA, they struggled to see what exactly was at stake. When asked if they knew about ESA, 83% said they did, but only 37% said they knew precisely what it was.

    2
    How much do space activities cost? This graphic from the Harris Interactive survey report on public perceptions of space activities shows the average estimates by European citizens (in UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) of how much they think space activities cost the European taxpayer per year, varying by country. The actual figure is roughly TWENTY times less!

    Interestingly, even though people didn’t know much about ESA’s activities, they significantly overestimated the cost of space activities for the public finances of their countries. While this cost represents around €10 per year per citizen in the countries concerned, very few respondents estimated this correctly.

    On average, Europeans estimated the cost of space activities at €245 per year per citizen, more than 20 times the actual amount.

    It is interesting to note that Europeans still identified two historical space ‘superpowers’, United States and Russia, but with Europe as their main competitor rather than China. Almost everyone agreed that European countries must pool their resources to do so.

    3
    Are space activities important? This graphic from the Harris Interactive survey report on public perceptions of issues related to space shows that 91% or Europeans interviewed (in UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain) said that they believed space activities are important (and 49% believed they are very important)

    It was noted that in all European countries, the weight attributed to Europe exceeded that credited to their own country (even 85% of British citizens interviewed, in a context heavily influenced by the exit of the UK from the European Union, considered it important that European countries pool their resources for space activities).

    Overall though, 90% of respondents had a positive view of space activities.

    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

    Advertisements
     
  • richardmitnick 9:57 am on January 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Delay Tolerant Networks, , ESA, , ESA's Discovery and Preparation Programme, ESA's OPS-SAT CubeSat, European Data Relay System (EDRS), Space Internet   

    From European Space Agency: “Space Internet” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    15 January 2019

    1
    The European Data Relay System (EDRS) uses advanced laser technology to relay information collected by lower orbiting satellites to the Earth via geostationary nodes.

    Every day satellites collect a wealth of information about Earth, but they must send it down to the ground before we can make use of it. Sometimes this data can be lost, damaged, or delayed, but our access to it could be improved using Delay Tolerant Networks (DTNs) – a new way of communicating with spacecraft.

    Imagine the inconvenience of only being able to send a message to a friend when your phones are directly facing each other with a perfect connection. Fortunately, the internet allows us to circumnavigate this problem by passing data to in-between nodes, and if your friend’s phone isn’t connected to the internet, the data is stored until it can be transferred to them.

    2
    ESA’s Aeolus satellite sending data to a ground station in Sweden (artist’s impression)

    ESA ADM-Aeolus satellite

    Currently communication with Earth observation satellites does not benefit from this internet-like transmission and storage of information through in-between nodes. Earth observation satellites only send data down to Earth when they are directly overhead a ground station. When a satellite isn’t facing a ground station, data starts queuing up. There is no system that automatically sort the queue to prioritise the sending of urgent data – information captured about natural disasters, perhaps – from the ordinary.

    Delay Tolerant Networks offer a solution in the form of using relay spacecraft and other ground stations. These would act as intermediate nodes that would be able to hold on to data and pass it on as soon as the next ‘hop’ is available, ensuring its safe delivery by relaying it up to a spacecraft or down to a ground station at just the right time. DTNs provide a new way of transmitting information, creating the foundation for a ‘space internet’.

    So far, DTNs have mostly been explored in the context of deep space – when distant planetary orbiters and rovers need to use intermediary nodes to communicate with Earth. But a team of researchers supported by ESA’s Discovery and Preparation Programme recently investigated the possible benefits of Delay Tolerant Networking for Earth observation.

    The team, made up of representatives from GMV INSYEN, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Solenix Deutschland and the University of Bologna analysed how DTNs could improve our communication with Earth observation spacecraft.

    2
    Different types of Delay Tolerant Networks

    Sebastian Martin, responsible for the project from ESA’s side, explains further, “DTNs allow information to be sent through a network that does not have a direct route from the starting point to the final receiver of information. In-between ‘nodes’ receive information and store it until they can send it on to a neighbour. In addition, DTNs can automatically schedule when to store information and when to forward it over different possible routes.”

    The team began by investigating how one of the existing Copernicus Sentinel missions could benefit from DTN technology. They then modelled a futuristic scenario with a full system of DTN-enabled Earth observation satellites, ground stations and control centres. In both scenarios, they found that the data automatically reached their destination via optimal routes and that the network correctly handled data with different priorities.

    3
    Sentinel-2 transmitting data by laser.Sentinel-2 carries an innovative high-resolution multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands for a new perspective of our land and vegetation. Once its data are acquired, they are sent to the core Sentinel ground stations in Italy, Spain and Norway. For continual data delivery, the satellite is also equipped with a laser terminal to transmit data to satellites in geostationary orbit carrying the European Data Relay System (EDRS). These satellites then transmit the Sentinel-2 data to the ground. Complementing the Sentinel ground-station network, EDRS ensures the timely availability of large volumes of data. Sentinel-1 carries the same laser terminal.

    They also looked into a second benefit of DTNs. When existing Earth observation satellites pass over ground stations on their orbits around Earth, a short amount of time at the beginning and the end of its pass is not used to transfer information. This is because there is a risk of data getting lost when the satellite is low over the horizon with a poor connection with the ground station. Using DTNs, it is possible to automatically check for lost data and get it resent. This means it is safer for satellites to attempt to send information as soon as the ground station is in sight, possibly resulting in more data being transferred during each pass of the satellite.

    Data can also be lost for other reasons, like bad weather. Optical communications, for example, can be severely affected by cloud cover, so to avoid loss of data it is necessary to wait for clear skies to send information. DTN networks would support this data being sent at any time, as lost data would be automatically detected and resent.

    A third advantage of DTNs is that data can be automatically prioritised. Michael Staub, who managed the project from GMV INSYEN, explains, “The DTNs that we created successfully sorted data depending on its priority, meaning that important observations – for example those made during natural disasters – would be sent as quickly as possible, even if other data joined the queue first.”

    This study is one step further in our understanding of how DTNs could revolutionise space communications. Next, experts will investigate how DTNs can be implemented technically, what data types would profit most, the potential impact on operations and operators, and where new markets and users could benefit from this technology.

    ESA Ops-sat Cubesat

    One option being considered for testing DTNs is ESA’s OPS-SAT CubeSat. The 30-centimetre high demonstrator will test out a large variety of technologies, including DTNs, to provide information useful for larger future missions. Eventually, the more spacecraft and ground stations using DTN technology, the more benefits the technology will bring.

    “Through this study, we have shown that DTNs would be very beneficial for Earth observation scenarios,” concludes Staub. “The networks we propose will enable organisations and commercial entities to interoperate, including encouraging the sharing of each other’s facilities and resources.”

    With space exploration becoming more complex, current communication networks become increasingly inadequate. DTNs would facilitate the next generation of space missions.

    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 10:55 am on January 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA, , Titan in Infrared   

    From European Space Agency via Manu Garcia: “Infrared view of Titan” 


    From Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    14 January 2019

    Titan’s most iconic moon of Saturn infrared view.

    1
    These six infrared images of moon, Titan, represent some of the clearest view jointless surface of the icy moon produced so far. The views were created using 13 years of data acquired by the Mapping Spectrometer Visual and Infrared (VIMS) instrument aboard the Cassini spacecraft NASA.

    VIMS instrument on NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft

    The images are the result of a concentrate to combine data from the multitude of different observations of VIMS under a wide variety of lighting conditions and viewing along the Cassini effort.

    VIMS previous map Titan (eg PIA02145 ) show a large variation in image resolution and lighting conditions, which results in obvious seams between the different areas of the surface. With the seams now missing, this new collection of images is by far, the best representation of how the globe might appear to the casual observer if not in the misty atmosphere of the moon, and probably will not be replaced for a while.

    It is difficult to observe the surface of Titan in the visible region of the spectrum, due to the haze surrounding the globe around the moon. This is mainly due to small particles called aerosols in the upper atmosphere of Titan which scatter visible light. But Titan’s surface can be viewed more easily in a few infrared “windows”: infrared wavelengths where the scattering and absorption of light are much weaker. This is where the VIMS instrument is highlighted, separating the mist to obtain clear images of the surface of Titan. (For comparison, Figure B shows Titan as appears as visible light, PIA11603 ).

    3
    Titan comparing the satellite image in optical or visible located in the center light, infrared Titan around.

    VIMS image mosaicking Titan has always been a challenge because data were obtained through different geometries flyovers different observation and atmospheric conditions. One result is displayed very prominent seams in mosaics that are quite difficult to remove by imaging scientists. But, through painstaking and detailed analysis of the data, along with manual processing of the mosaics, the seams have been eliminated mostly. This is an update of the work previously discussed in PIA20022.

    Any full-color image consists of three color channels: red, green and blue. Each of the three color channels combined to create these views are produced using a relationship between the brightness of the surface of Titan two different wavelengths (1.59 / 1.27 microns [red], 2.03 / 1 27 microns [green] and 1.27 / 1.08 microns [blue]) This technique (technique called “band ratio”) reduces the prominence of the seams, and emphasizes the subtle spectral variations in the materials in the Titan surface. For example, equatorial dune fields of the moon appear here with a uniform brown color. There is also bluish purple areas which may have different compositions from other bright areas, and can be enriched in ice water.

    To see a map of Titan latitudes, longitudes and surface features labeled, see PIA20713 .

    4
    Author’s illustration of Cassini between Saturn’s rings. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.

    It is quite clear from this unique set of images that Titan has a surface deporting countless complex geological characteristics and composition units. The VIMS instrument has paved the way for future infrared instruments that could represent Titan at a much higher resolution, revealing features that were not detectable by any of the instruments Cassini.

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. VIMS team is based at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

    For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm . The homepage of the visual and infrared spectrometer mapping equipment is in http://www.vims.lpl.arizona.edu .

    Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Stéphane Le Mouélic, University of Nantes, Virginia Pasek, University of Arizona

    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 11:17 am on January 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: An event called ASASSN-14li, ASASSN the all sky automated survey (ASAS) is a Polish project at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, , , , , ESA, , XMM-Newton captures final cries of star shredded by black hole   

    From European Space Agency: “XMM-Newton captures final cries of star shredded by black hole” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    9 January 2019

    Dheeraj Pasham
    MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
    Cambridge, MA, USA
    Tel: +1-617-253-4845
    Email: dheeraj@space.mit.edu

    Alessia Franchini
    University of Milan, Italy
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA
    Email: alessia.franchini@unlv.edu

    Norbert Schartel
    XMM-Newton Project Scientist
    European Space Agency
    Email: norbert.schartel@esa.int

    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

    Astronomers using ESA’s XMM-Newton space observatory have studied a black hole devouring a star and discovered an exceptionally bright and stable signal that allowed them to determine the black hole’s spin rate.

    ESA/XMM Newton

    1
    XMM-Newton view

    Astronomers using ESA’s XMM-Newton space observatory have studied a black hole devouring a star and discovered an exceptionally bright and stable signal that allowed them to determine the black hole’s spin rate.

    Black holes are thought to lurk at the centre of all massive galaxies throughout the Universe, and are inextricably tied to the properties of their host galaxies. As such, revealing more about these behemoths may hold the key to understanding how galaxies evolve over time.

    A black hole’s gravity is extreme, and can rip apart stars that stray too close. The debris from such torn-apart stars spirals inwards towards the hole, heats up, and emits intense X-rays.

    Despite the number of black holes thought to exist in the cosmos, many are dormant – there is no in-falling material to emit detectable radiation – and thus difficult to study. However, every few hundred thousand years or so, a star is predicted to pass near enough to a given black hole that it is torn apart. This offers a brief window of opportunity to measure some fundamental properties of the hole itself, such as its mass and the rate at which it is spinning.

    “It’s very difficult to constrain the spin of a black hole, as spin effects only emerge very close to the hole itself, where gravity is intensely strong and it’s difficult to see clearly,” says Dheeraj Pasham of the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Massachusetts, USA, and lead author of the new study [Science].

    “However, models show that the mass from a shredded star settles into a kind of inner disc that throws off X-rays. We guessed that finding instances where this disc glows especially brightly would be a good way to constrain a black hole’s spin, but observations of such events weren’t sensitive enough to explore this region of strong gravity in detail – until now.”

    Dheeraj and colleagues studied an event called ASASSN-14li.

    ASASSN the all sky automated survey (ASAS) is a Polish project at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, over 2,500 m -8,200 ft high

    ASASSN-14li was discovered by the ground-based All-Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASASSN) on 22 November 2014. The black hole tied to the event is at least one million times as massive as the Sun.

    “ASASSN-14li is nicknamed the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of these events,” adds Dheeraj. “All of its properties are characteristic of this type of event, and it has been studied by all currently operational major X-ray telescopes.”

    Using observations of ASASSN-14li from ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra and Swift X-ray observatories, the scientists hunted for a signal that was both stable and showed a characteristic wave pattern often triggered when a black hole receives a sudden influx of mass – such as when devouring a passing star.

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    NASA Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

    They detected a surprisingly intense X-ray signal that oscillated over a period of 131 seconds for a long time: 450 days.

    By combining this with information about the black hole’s mass and size, the astronomers found that the hole must be spinning rapidly – at more than 50% of the speed of light – and that the signal came from its innermost regions.

    3
    Black hole host galaxy. Host galaxy of ASASSN-14li. X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/D. Pasham et al; Optical: HST/STScI/I. Arcavi
    The host galaxy of ASASSN-14li, a black hole devouring a star, as observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in optical wavelengths. The insert in the lower left shows the X-ray view obtained by NASA’s Chandra observatory.
    Observations of ASASSN-14li have revealed an exceptionally bright and stable signal that oscillated over a period of 131 seconds for a long time: 450 days.
    By combining this with information about the black hole’s mass and size, the astronomers found that the hole must be spinning rapidly – at more than 50% of the speed of light – and that the signal came from its innermost regions.

    “It’s an exceptional finding: such a bright signal that is stable for so long has never been seen before in the vicinity of any black hole,” adds co-author Alessia Franchini of the University of Milan, Italy.

    “What’s more, the signal is coming from right near the black hole’s event horizon – beyond this point we can’t observe a thing, as gravity is so strong that even light can’t escape.”

    The study demonstrates a novel way to measure the spins of massive black holes: by observing their activity when they disrupt passing stars with their gravity. Such events may also help us to understand aspects of general relativity theory; while this has been explored extensively in ‘normal’ gravity, it is not yet fully understood in regions where gravity is exceptionally strong.

    “XMM-Newton is incredibly sensitive to these signals, more so than any other X-ray telescope,” says ESA’s XMM-Newton Project Scientist Norbert Schartel. “The satellite provides the long, uninterrupted, detailed exposures that are crucial to detecting signals such as these.

    “We’re only just beginning to understand the complex physics at play here. By finding instances where the mass from a shredded star glows especially brightly we can build a census of the black holes in the Universe, and probe how matter behaves in some of the most extreme areas and conditions in the cosmos.”

    The black hole tied to the event is at least one million times as massive as the Sun.

    “ASASSN-14li is nicknamed the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of these events,” adds Dheeraj. “All of its properties are characteristic of this type of event, and it has been studied by all currently operational major X-ray telescopes.”

    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 9:55 am on January 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA, ESA Eutelsat Quantum, Eutelsat Quantum is the first satellite capable of being completely reprogrammed after launch, It is nicknamed the ‘chameleon’ satellite because of its software-driven approach   

    From European Space Agency: “World-first chameleon satellite leaving native British shores” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    9 January 2019

    1
    Eutelsat Quantum platform

    The last component of British-built chameleon satellite, Eutelsat Quantum, is getting ready to leave home for good.

    The final piece of equipment is part of the new SSTL platform; the chassis that provides a payload with structure, power and the ability to propel itself through space.

    Representing a major first for the company, the platform weighs in at just over 1 tonne, which is an order of magnitude bigger than any other satellite they have built in the past.

    The new technologies aboard – the home-grown structure, momentum wheels and gyros – contribute to the platform enabling SSTL to enter the global geostationary satellite market.

    It will soon travel from SSTL Guildford to join the rest of the mission’s technologies in Airbus France, where it will be mated with its ground-breaking payload.

    Eutelsat Quantum is the first satellite capable of being completely reprogrammed after launch.

    It is nicknamed the ‘chameleon’ satellite because of its software-driven approach, meaning all manner of changes can be made to the mission while it is in orbit, like adjusting the satellite’s coverage, frequency, power, and even orbital position.

    It marks a shift from the traditional custom-designed, one-off payloads and is a first for all parties involved.

    ESA Eutelsat Quantum

    The telecom satellite is developed under an ARTES public–private partnership between ESA and Eutelsat, who will operate the satellite and use its flexibility to respond to the ever-evolving market much more effectively.

    Yohann Leroy, Eutelsat Deputy CEO and Chief Technical Officer, said: “Eutelsat Quantum is a world-first and reflects the culmination of many years of research and evaluation driven by Eutelsat, and supported by major partners such as the ESA, the UK Space Agency, and Airbus. It will bring unprecedented agility and flexibility to our customers in the government, mobility and data markets: innovation will not only come from the ability to adjust coverages in real time in order to allocate resources between beams and regions but also from the fact that customers will be able to take command and optimise capacity use autonomously.”

    Much of Eutelsat Quantum’s cutting-edge equipment was manufactured by Airbus in the UK, who shipped the payload to their French facilities in December. It is currently being tested and will be integrated onto the platform later in the year.

    Colin Paynter, Airbus Defence and Space UK Managing Director, said: “Combining the payload expertise from Airbus in Portsmouth, and SSTL’s new geostationary platform provides a very sophisticated package for Eutelsat. The satellite is a world-first, fully reprogrammable in orbit, and we’re looking forward to seeing it fly.”

    Expanding SSTL’s product line in this way is expected to open as-of-yet untapped markets for the company. Today, they opened their doors for people to come and view the pioneering platform before it leaves their cleanroom.

    Sarah Parker, SSTL Managing Director said: “The completion of our work on the Eutelsat Quantum satellite platform is an important milestone for SSTL as it represents our first venture into the global commercial telecoms satellite market. The design and assembly of this innovative spacecraft has enabled us to advance the knowledge and skills required to develop highly capable satellite products for the evolving telecoms market, where we are now actively engaged in seeking new opportunities.”

    2
    Eutelsat Quantum partners

    Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, said: “Eutelsat Quantum is an important programme for both the UK and ESA and a typical example of the success of the ARTES public–private partnership model. Above all, our priority is our industry’s health and readiness for future market challenges. Partnerships like these that improve the competitiveness, competence and business prospects of the companies we support are what we dedicate our efforts to.”

    Graham Turnock, UK Space Agency CEO said: “Communications satellites like Eutelsat Quantum that can be reprogrammed to adapt coverage, connectivity and orbit could until recently be considered the stuff of science fiction.

    “Through our €480m development funding in the European Space Agency’s ARTES programme, together with the government’s Industrial Strategy and partnering with industry leaders, we are helping UK businesses transform ‘the stuff of science fiction’ into commercial advantage, resulting in jobs, growth and innovation.”

    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 1:18 pm on January 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: APEX CubeSat, APEX will also make a landing on one of the asteroids, , , , , , Didymos asteroids, ESA, Hera is set to be humankind’s first mission to a binary asteroid system, Hera mission, Juventas CubeSat, Juventas will measure the gravity field as well as the internal structure of the smaller of the two Didymos asteroids   

    From European Space Agency: “CubeSats joining Hera mission to asteroid system” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    1
    Hera at Didymos

    7 January 2019

    When ESA’s planned Hera mission journeys to its target binary asteroid system, it will not be alone. The spacecraft will carry two tiny CubeSats for deployment around – and eventual landing on – the Didymos asteroids. Each companion spacecraft will be small enough to fit inside a briefcase, as compared to the desk-sized Hera.

    CubeSats are nanosatellites based on standardised 10 cm-sized units. Hera has room to deliver two ‘six-unit’ CubeSat missions to the Didymos asteroid system – a 780 m-diameter mountain-sized main body is orbited by a 160 m moon, informally called ‘Didymoon’, about the same size as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

    The Hera mission received proposals for CubeSats from across Europe, and an evaluation board has now made the final selection.

    “We’re very happy to have these high-quality CubeSat missions join us to perform additional bonus science alongside their Hera mothership,” explains Hera manager Ian Carnelli.

    “Carrying added instruments and venturing much closer to our target bodies, they will give different perspectives and complementary investigations on this exotic binary asteroid. They will also give us valuable experience of close proximity operations relayed by the Hera mothercraft in extreme low-gravity conditions. This will be very valuable to many future missions.”

    2
    APEX CubeSat

    Paolo Martino, Hera spacecraft lead engineer adds: “The idea of building CubeSats for deep space is relatively new, but was recently validated by NASA’s InSight landing on Mars last November, when a pair of accompanying CubeSats succeeded in relaying the lander’s radio signals back to Earth – as well as returning imagery of the Red Planet.”

    The first CubeSat companion is called the Asteroid Prospection Explorer (or ‘APEX’), and was developed by a Swedish/Finnish/Czech/German consortium. It will perform detailed spectral measurements of both asteroids’ surfaces – measuring the sunlight reflected by Didymos and breaking down its various colours to discover how these asteroids have interacted with the space environment, pinpointing any differences in composition between the two. In addition, APEX will make magnetic readings that will give insight into their interior structure of these bodies.

    2
    Juventas CubeSat

    Guided by a navigation camera and a ‘laser radar’ (lidar) instrument, APEX will also make a landing on one of the asteroids, gathering valuable data in the process using inertial sensors, and going on to perform close-up observations of the asteroid’s surface material.

    The other CubeSat is called Juventas, developed by Danish company GomSpace and GMV in Romania, and will measure the gravity field as well as the internal structure of the smaller of the two Didymos asteroids.

    In close orbit around Didymoon, Juventas will line up with Hera to perform satellite-to-satellite radio-science experiments and carry out a low-frequency radar survey of the asteroid interior, similar to performing a detailed ‘X-ray scan’ of Didymoon to unveil its interior. The adventure will end with a landing, using the dynamics of any likely bouncing to capture details of the asteroid’s surface material – followed by several days of surface operations.

    Hera is set to be humankind’s first mission to a binary asteroid system. As well as testing technologies in deep space and gathering crucial science data, Hera is designed to be Europe’s contribution to an international planetary defence effort: it would survey the crater and measure orbital deviation of Didymoon caused by the earlier collision of a NASA probe, called DART. This unique experiment will validate the asteroid deflection technique referred to as kinetic impactor, enabling humankind to protect our planet from asteroid impacts.

    Next, the two CubeSats will have their designs refined and interfaces with their mothership finalised, in line with continuing design work on the Hera mission itself, which will be presented to ESA’s Space19+ meeting towards the end of this year, where Europe’s space ministers will take a final decision on flying the mission.

    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 10:48 am on January 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ESA, , What is coming in 2019   

    From European Space Agency: What is Coming in 2019- Video 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    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 11:58 am on December 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ‘PulChron’ system measures the passing of time using millisecond-frequency radio pulses from multiple fast-spinning neutron stars, , , , ESA, ESA sets clock by distant spinning stars, ,   

    From European Space Agency: “ESA sets clock by distant spinning stars” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    24 December 2018

    ESA’s technical centre in the Netherlands has begun running a pulsar-based clock. The ‘PulChron’ system measures the passing of time using millisecond-frequency radio pulses from multiple fast-spinning neutron stars.

    Operating since the end of November, this pulsar-based timing system is hosted in the Galileo Timing and Geodetic Validation Facility of ESA’s ESTEC establishment, at Noordwijk in the Netherlands, and relies on ongoing observations by a five-strong array of radio telescopes across Europe.

    1
    Pulsar encased in supernova bubble

    Neutron stars are the densest form of observable matter in the cosmos, formed out of the collapsed core of exploding stars. Tiny in cosmic terms, on the order of a dozen kilometres in diameter, they still have a higher mass than Earth’s Sun.

    A pulsar is a type of rapidly rotating neutron star with a magnetic field that emits a beam of radiation from its pole. Because of their spin – kept steady by their extreme density – pulsars as seen from Earth appear to emit highly regular radio bursts – so much so that in 1967 their discoverer, UK astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell, initially considered they might be evidence of ‘little green men’.

    Women in STEM – Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 2009

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943 – ), still working from http://www. famousirishscientists.weebly.com

    3
    ESTEC

    “PulChron aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of a pulsar-based timescale for the generation and monitoring of satellite navigation timing in general, and Galileo System Time in particular,” explains navigation engineer Stefano Binda, overseeing the PulChron project.

    “A timescale based on pulsar measurements is typically less stable than one using atomic or optical clocks in the short term but it could be competitive in the very long term, over several decades or more, beyond the working life of any individual atomic clock.

    “In addition, this pulsar time scale works quite independently of whatever atomic clock technology is employed – it doesn’t rely on switches between atomic energy states but the rotation of neutron stars.”

    PulChron sources batches of pulsar measurements from the five 100-m class radio telescopes comprising the European Pulsar Timing Array – the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands, Germany’s Effelsberg Radio Telescope, the Lovell Telescope in the UK , France’s Nancay Radio Telescope and the Sardinia Radio Telescope in Italy.

    Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, an aperture synthesis interferometer near World War II Nazi detention and transit camp Westerbork, north of the village of Westerbork, Midden-Drenthe, in the northeastern Netherlands

    MPIFR/Effelsberg Radio Telescope, in the Ahrgebirge (part of the Eifel) in Bad Münstereifel, Germany

    3
    Lovell Telescope, Jodrell Bank

    Nancay decametric radio telescope located in the small commune of Nançay, two hours’ drive south of Paris, France

    Sardinia Radio Telescope based in Pranu Sanguni, near Sant’Andrea Frius and San Basilio, about 35 km north of Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy).

    This multinational effort monitors 18 highly precise pulsars in the European sky to search out any timing anomalies, potential evidence of gravitational waves – fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime caused by powerful cosmic events.

    For PulChron, these radio telescope measurements are used to steer the output of an active hydrogen maser atomic clock with equipment based in the Galileo Timing and Geodetic Validation Facility – combining its extreme short- and medium-term stability with the longer-term reliability of the pulsars. A ‘paper clock’ record is also generated out of the measurements, for subsequent post-processing checks.

    4
    Atomic clocks at ESTEC

    ESA established the Timing and Geodetic Validation Facility in the early days of the Galileo programme, first to prepare for ESA’s two GIOVE test satellites and then in support of the world-spanning Galileo system, based on ‘Galileo System Time’ which needs to remain accurate to a few billionths of a second. The Facility continues to serve as an independent yardstick of Galileo performance, linked to monitoring stations across the globe, as well as a tool for anomaly investigation.

    Stefano adds: “The TGVF provided a perfect opportunity to host the PulChron because it is capable of integrating such new elements with little effort, and has a long tradition in time applications, having been used even to synchronise time and frequency offset of the Galileo satellites themselves.”

    5
    PulChron setup

    PulChron’s accuracy is being monitored down to a few billionths of a second using ESA’s adjacent UTC Laboratory, which harnesses three such atomic hydrogen maser clocks plus a trio of caesium clocks to produce a highly-stable timing signal, contributing to the setting of Coordinated Universal Time, UTC – the world’s time.

    The gradual diversion of pulsar time from ESTEC’s UTC time can therefore be tracked – anticipated at a rate of around 200 trillionths of a second daily.

    This project is supported through ESA’s Navigation Innovation and Support Programme (NAVISP), applying ESA’s hard-won expertise from Galileo and Europe’s EGNOS satellite augmentation system to new satellite navigation and – more widely – positioning, navigation and timing challenges.

    PulChron is being led for ESA by GMV in the UK in collaboration with the University of Manchester and the UK’s NPL National Physical Laboratory.

    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 1:24 pm on December 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A plasma is an electrically-charged gas, A Space Playground for the Fourth State of Matter-plasma is distinct from gas liquids and solids, , , , , ESA, Plasma Kristall at the ISS, Plasma research in microgravity   

    From European Space Agency: “A Space Playground for the Fourth State of Matter” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    1
    Visualising the laws of physics

    13 December 2018

    A recipe to understand atomic structures:

    Mix electrically-charged gas in a sealed container with particles so small they would pass through a coffee filter.
    Perform in the weightless environment of the International Space Station.
    Adjust voltage to observe how the particles form three-dimensional crystal structures.
    Start unlocking the physics behind the atoms’ behaviour.

    This is part of the formula for Plasma Kristall, the longest-running series of experiments in the history of human spaceflight and the results of the latest campaign will return to Earth next week in the Soyuz spacecraft with ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst.

    The recipe comes from a European-Russian collaboration that has been slow-cooking since 1998. After running on parabolic flights, sounding rockets and the Mir space station, the experiment found a new home at the International Space Station in 2001.

    2
    Roscosmos astronaut Sergei Prokopyev during the installation and commissioning of the new hardware in Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station in July 2018. Sergei carried out the fifth campaign of Plasma Kristall-4 in November 2018.

    Our world is made of atoms and molecules, but even with the most powerful microscope we cannot see them moving in liquids or solids. Running experiments in weightlessness allows researchers to gain new insights into the atoms’ interaction by using tiny plastic particles that behave like atoms.

    “Doing this research on Earth is not possible – Plasma Kristall models atomic interactions on a larger scale, making their motion visible to us,” explains Hubertus Thomas, lead scientist of this experiment at the German Aerospace Centre, DLR.

    Hubertus has followed plasma research in microgravity the experiment when the first crew arrived at the Space Station and turned it on. Recently, a problem with the valve that regulates the gas flow forced an 18-month pause. With a newly refurbished valve, Plasma Kristall-4 (or PK-4) resumed operations last month.

    Proxy atoms back to science

    A plasma is an electrically-charged gas, somewhat like lightning, that rarely occurs on Earth. It is considered to be the fourth state of matter, distinct from gas, liquids and solids.

    3
    Plasma Kristall-4
    The image shows the parabolic flight setup of PK-4 used as a test model for the International Space Station. The plasma (orange glow) is created in a U-shaped glass tube with an electric field. The microparticles trapped in the chamber are illuminated by a green laser light allowing the observation of the motion of the particles. Plasma Kristall-4 will inject microscopic dust particles into a neon and argon tube to act as atom substitutes. As they float in the charged gas, they will collect negative charges as positive ions accumulate around them. As a result, they will start to repulse each other – just like atoms do in a fluid state.
    Doing this research on Earth is not possible – the dust particles would fall with gravity and the simulated atoms would not behave realistically. This experiment is making the atomic scale visible for analysis and will help scientists to understand the interactions of atoms.

    “We excite the particles using electrical fields, a laser and changes in temperature to move them in the plasma,” says Hubertus.

    These manipulations cause the proxy atoms to interact strongly, leading to organised structures – plasma crystals. The particles in PK-4 are made of plastic and bond to each other or repulse each other just as atoms do on Earth in a fluid.

    “By adjusting the voltage across the experiment chamber we can tailor their interactions, and observe each microparticle individually and as if in slow motion,” explains Hubertus. Using PK-4, researchers across the world can follow how an object melts, how waves spread in fluids and how currents change at the atomic level.

    The latest science run covered phase transitions, microscopic motions and shear forces. Shearing forces are a very hot topic in fundamental physics. These forces push one part of a body in a specific direction, and another part in the opposite direction, as for example the pressure of air along the front of an airplane wing.

    The future of plasma

    This research is mainly textbook knowledge for future scientists and engineers. “If you had asked Einstein what his theory of relativity was for, he would never have replied that it was to build a navigation system for your mobile phone,” points out Hubertus.

    A team of scientists has already made use of the know-how gained from the technological development of this space experiment to design plasma devices for the disinfection of wounds at room temperature. This revolution in healthcare has many practical applications, from food hygiene to treatment of different kinds of skin diseases, purification of water and odour management.

    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 9:00 am on December 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA, ,   

    From European Space Agency: “BepiColombo now firing on all cylinders” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    5 December 2018

    BepiColombo, the joint ESA/JAXA spacecraft on a mission to Mercury, is now firing its thrusters for the first time in flight.

    Artistic renditon of ESA/JAXA BepiColombo

    On Sunday, BepiColombo carried out the first successful manoeuver using two of its four electric propulsion thrusters. After more than a week of testing which saw each thruster individually and meticulously put through its paces, the intrepid explorer is now one step closer to reaching the innermost planet of the Solar System.

    BepiColombo left Earth on 20 October 2018, and after the first few critical days in space and the initial weeks of in-orbit commissioning, its [ESA] Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) is now revving up the high-tech ion thrusters.

    The most powerful and high-performance electric propulsion system ever flown, these electric blue thrusters had not been tested in space until now.

    2
    Twin ion thrusters firing. Two T6 gridded ion thrusters undergoing a joint test firing inside a vacuum chamber at QinetiQ in Farnborough, UK. BepiColombo’s Solar Electric Propulsion System has four T6 thrusters for redundancy, with one or two operating at one time. The two thrusters needed testing to check they could be operated in close proximity for prolonged periods without any harmful interactions. In space the plumes seen here would not be visible; they occur due to vestigial gases building up inside the chamber. The glow from the thrusters would be visible however.

    It is these glowing power-packs that will propel the two science orbiters – the Mercury Planetary Orbiter and Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter – on the seven-year cruise to the least explored planet of the inner Solar System.

    “Electric propulsion technology is very novel and extremely delicate,” explains Elsa Montagnon, Spacecraft Operations Manager for BepiColombo.

    “This means BepiColombo’s four thrusters had to be thoroughly checked following the launch, by slowly turning each on, one by one, and closely monitoring their functioning and effect on the spacecraft.”

    3
    BepiColombo images high-gain antenna. ESA/BepiColombo/MTM , CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.
    The BepiColombo [ESA] Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) has returned its first image of the deployed high-gain antenna onboard the [ESA] Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO). The actual deployment took place earlier today, and was confirmed by telemetry.

    The back side of the high-gain antenna is clearly seen at the top of the image. The side of the MPO with the low-gain antenna, which protrudes from the side of the module, is also visible, together with some detail of the MPO’s multi-layered insulation. One of the hold-down release mechanisms of the MTM solar array is also seen between the antenna and the MPO. The dark outline in the top left corresponds to the inside of the MTM where the camera sits and looks out into space. A section of one of the solar arrays of the MTM is seen at the bottom of the image, together with a hold-down bracket on the yoke.

    The transfer module is equipped with three monitoring cameras, which provide black-and-white snapshots in 1024 x 1024 pixel resolution. This image was taken by the ‘M-CAM 3’ camera (click here to see the location and field of view of all three monitoring cameras.)

    The monitoring cameras will be used on various occasions during the cruise phase, notably during the flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury. While the MPO is equipped with a high-resolution scientific camera, this can only be operated after separating from the MTM upon arrival at Mercury in late 2025 because, like several of the 11 instrument suites, it is located on the side of the spacecraft fixed to the MTM during cruise.

    Testing took place during a unique window, in which BepiColombo remained in continuous view of ground-based antennas and communications between the spacecraft and those controlling it could be constantly maintained.

    This was the only chance to check in detail the functioning of this fundamental part of the spacecraft, as when routine firing begins in mid-December, the position of the spacecraft will mean its antennas will not be pointing at Earth, making it less visible to operators at mission control.

    The first fire

    On 20 November at 11:33 UTC (12:33 CET), the first of BepiColombo’s thrusters entered Thrust Mode with a force of 75 mN (millinewtons). With this BepiColombo was firing in space for the very first time.

    Three hours later, the newly awakened thruster was really put through its paces as commands from mission control directed it to go full throttle, ramping up to 125mN – equivalent to holding an AAA battery at sea level.

    This may not sound like much, but this thruster was now working at the maximum thrust planned to be used during the life of the mission.

    Thrust mode was maintained for five hours before BepiColombo transitioned back to Normal Mode. The entire time, ESA’s Malargüe antenna in Argentina was in communication with the now glowing blue spacecraft – the colour of the plasma generated by the thruster as it burned through the xenon propellant.

    ESA Malargüe Station is a 35-metre ESTRACK radio antenna in Argentina. It is located 40 kilometres south of the town of Malargüe, Argentina

    These steps were then repeated for each of the other three thrusters over the next days, having only a tiny effect on BepiColombo’s overall trajectory.

    The small effects that were observed allowed the Flight Dynamics team to assess the thruster performance in precise detail: analysis of the first two firings reveals that the spacecraft was performing within 2% of its expected value. Analysis of the last two firings is ongoing.

    “To see the thrusters working for the first time in space was an exciting moment and a big relief. BepiColombo’s seven year trip to Mercury will include 22 ion thrust arcs – and we absolutely need healthy and well performing thrusters for this long trip,” explains Paolo Ferri, ESA’s Head of Operations.

    “Each thruster burn arc will last for extended periods of up to two months, providing the same acceleration from less fuel compared to traditional, high-energy chemical burns that last for minutes or hours.”

    During each long-duration burn the engines do take eight hour pauses, once a week, to allow the ground to perform navigation measurements in quiet dynamic conditions.

    The first routine electric propulsion thrust arc will begin in mid-December, steering BepiColombo on its interplanetary trajectory and optimising its orbit ahead of its swing-by of Earth in April 2020.

    Travelling some nine billion kilometers in total, BepiColombo will take nine flybys at Earth, Venus and Mercury, looping around the Sun 18 times.

    4
    BepiColombo Earth flyby. Artist’s impression of the BepiColombo spacecraft in cruise configuration, flying past Earth and with the Sun in the background. After launch, BepiColombo will return to Earth two years later to make a gravity-assist flyby, before flying by Venus twice and Mercury six times before entering orbit around the innermost planet.

    In this view, the Mercury Transfer Module is at the rear, with its solar wings extended, spanning about 30 m from tip-to-tip. Because the arrays are tilted towards the Sun, the underside of the panels can be seen. The 7.5 m-long solar array of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter in the middle is seen extending to the top, with the high-gain antenna dish to the left, and the magnetometer boom and medium gain antenna to the right. The Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter [JAXA] sits inside the sunshield, its antenna folded inside and visible in this view.

    By late 2025 the transfer module’s work will be done: it will separate, allowing the two science orbiters to be captured by Mercury’s gravity, studying the planet and its environment, along with its interaction with the solar wind, from complementary orbits.

    “We put our trust in the thrusters and they have not let us down. We are now on our way to Mercury with electro-mobility,” concludes Günther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science.

    “This brings us an important step closer to unlocking the secrets of the mysterious innermost planet and ultimately, the formation of our Solar System.”

    Follow ESA Operations on twitter for updates on BepiColombo’s journey, as well as the latest from ESA’s mission control.

    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

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: