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  • richardmitnick 7:23 am on April 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESA, JWST lights out inspection,   

    From ESA: “JWST lights out inspection” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    4.22.17

    1

    After completion of its vibration and acoustic testing in March, the James Webb Space Telescope – JWST – is shown here undergoing a detailed ‘lights out’ inspection in one of NASA’s cleanrooms at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

    This is a special type of visual inspection to check for any forms of contamination. Both bright white LEDs and UV lights are used in order to better search for possible contamination, with the lights inside the cleanroom switched off to improve the contrast.

    The low lighting means the image had to be taken with a longer than normal exposure time. This makes the technicians appear somewhat ghostly as they moved about the cleanroom during the exposure.

    The image shows the segmented and gold-coated primary mirror of the telescope, which has a diameter of about 6.5 m when unfolded. It consists of 18 hexagonal segments, which will work together as one gigantic state-of-the-art mirror.

    In order to fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket that will boost it into space, some segments will be folded, which will then open in orbit.

    By the end of April, the telescope and the instruments will be shipped from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to Johnson’s Space Center in Texas where, over the course of the summer, it will go through final cryogenic-temperature testing.

    JWST is joint project of NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, and is scheduled for launch in October 2018 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This image was first published on 15 March via the NASA JWST pages.
    Credits: NASA–C. Gunn

    See the full article here .

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

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  • richardmitnick 1:57 pm on April 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ESA, ESA’s Hertz Hybrid European RF and Antenna Test Zone for antenna testing, Ice Cloud Imager, MetOp Second Generation (MetOp-SG)   

    From ESA: “Small but perfectly formed high-frequency radio testing” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    1
    High-frequency near-field scanner. No image credit.

    10 April 2017

    ESA’s antenna test facilities are operating at higher frequencies than ever before, helping to prepare a future instrument targeting a mystery aspect of Earth’s climate.

    The new (Sub)millimetre-wave Scanner Test Facility at ESA’s technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, was used for the first time for early testing of prototype feed horns designed for the highest frequency channel of a ‘radiometer’ to scan Earth’s atmosphere for icy cirrus clouds.

    2
    MetOp Second Generation
    Released 21/11/2012
    Copyright ESA-P. Carril, 2012
    MetOp Second Generation (MetOp-SG) will continue meteorological observations from polar orbit. It will ensure continuity of indispensable observations without data gaps, improve the accuracy and resolution of the measurements and provide new measurement capabilities.

    These high-altitude clouds play a crucial role in global climate. They reflect radiation from the Sun back into space as well as trapping upwelling radiation from below in a natural greenhouse effect. Which of these two competing mechanisms dominates depends on the altitude, the composition of the clouds and the size and shape of the ice crystals making up the clouds.

    As part of the MetOp-Second-Generation payload, the Ice Cloud Imager will continuously observe Earth’s atmosphere in 11 mm and sub-mm channels. Europe’s first MetOp-SG weather satellite is scheduled to be launched into a polar orbit in 2022.

    3
    Scanner beside imager feed horn
    Released 10/04/2017
    Copyright ESA–G. Porter, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    The new (Sub)millimetre-wave Scanner Test Facility at ESA’s technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands testing a high-frequency feed horn for the Ice Cloud Imager planned to fly on MetOp Second Generation. The feed horn is seen to the right with the Facility’s movable planar near-field scanner, used to build up a detailed signal picture in all directions, to the left.

    “With our new (Sub)mm-wave Scanner we can easily work with frequencies up to 750 GHz,” explains ESA antenna engineer Elena Saenz.
    “The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength, and in this case that brings us down to around half of a millimetre – so everything gets very small-scale.”

    4
    Hybrid European RF and Antenna Test Zone
    Released 11/04/2013 12:00 pm
    Copyright ESA-Anneke Le Floc’h
    ESA’s Hertz Hybrid European RF and Antenna Test Zone for antenna testing, formerly known as the Compact Payload Test Range. Metal walls screen outside radio signals while spiky foam interior cladding absorbs radio signals internally to create conditions simulating the infinite void of space.

    “This test bench, equipped to build up a detailed signal picture in all directions, is the functional equivalent of the full-scale Hertz Hybrid European RF and Antenna Test Zone chamber, big enough to encapsulate entire satellites or large antennas, which operates up to 50 GHz.

    “But there are big challenges associated with extending our operating frequencies upwards in this way. First of all, the extreme electronics performance needed to generate the radio signals, and then to ensure the highly precise alignment of the test, using laser measurement systems. The scanner itself rests on a granite block to isolate it from external vibration.”

    ESA’s Antenna Test Facilities are able to meet the needs of future missions, which are set to employ a broader range of radio frequencies.

    The early testing performed for MetOp-SG’s cloud imager will be followed by research beneficial to instruments operating at even higher frequencies, such as the submillimetre sensor for the Juice Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer mission, due to be launched in 2022.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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

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  • richardmitnick 5:53 am on April 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESA   

    From ESA: “CubeSats: from educational tools to autonomous space drones” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    31 March 2017
    Roger Walker, Technology CubeSat manager

    1
    Un-named ESA cubesats

    2
    e-st@r team clean their CubeSat before integration

    3
    The technology-testing GomX-3 under construction. A ‘three-unit’ CubeSat, it measures 10x10x30 cm in size with an approximate mass of 3 kg, with payloads to detect signals from aircraft and telecom satellites. (Credit: davidgerhardt.com)

    CubeSats started as a tool for education. Profs Jordi Puig-Suari of California Polytechnic State University and Bob Twiggs of Stanford University wanted students to gain hands-on experience in designing, making and flying nanosatellites, but they needed to do it cheaply.

    That led them to the PC/104 computer standard, with rugged, stackable electronics boards with commercial components to fit within a 10x10x10 cm box (or unit). A container was developed as a standard interface for launch vehicles, with a spring-loaded ‘jack in a box’ deployment system to push out three CubeSats at a time into space. That in turn inspired the idea of a single 3-unit CubeSat, packing in added technology and a payload. The CubeSat standard was born. Within their budgets for the first time, many university engineering facilities worldwide then embraced the concept and gave the chance for students to build something to actually fly in space – how cool is that?

    ESA’s involvement with CubeSats started in 2006, when I was working at the Education Office. There was an opportunity to embark educational CubeSats on the maiden flight of our new Vega launcher. The agreement was signed with the Vega project in 2007, and that led in turn to the first European CubeSat symposium in early 2008. Vega launched seven separate 1-unit CubeSats in the end. Different European universities designed, manufactured and tested the CubeSats and we supported their engineering work, verified their suitability for flight and procured their deployment systems.

    The 2012 launch saw these CubeSats meet with mixed operational success – only two worked for a long period, three for a few weeks and contact was lost with a couple. But they were all successes in educational terms, of course. When universities make a CubeSat for the first time then there’s maybe a 50/50 chance of failure, but for second and third times it’s a lot lower. And the student teams responsible for those pioneer CubeSats formed spin-off companies after graduation.

    These companies have grown exponentially since then, employing dozens of people, manufacturing multiple CubeSats annually as the market has expanded greatly with not only universities, but also government agencies and commercial service start-ups now utilising them.

    ESA’s involvement with educational CubeSats continues to this day and this remains very important, but it was clear back then that CubeSats held wider potential – quick and cheap to develop and launch, they offer an ideal platform for demonstrating promising new technologies. So that’s my current role within TEC, bringing together technology companies and research institutes with CubeSat companies.

    We group payloads together synergistically so each technology CubeSat is more than the sum of its parts. For instance, GomX-3 – our first mission to fly – combined a receiver of ADS-B aircraft signals with a system to map signal quality from telecom satellites, 3-axis pointing control plus an X-band transmitter for rapid data download. Another CubeSat, QARMAN, is focused on reentry technologies and is scheduled to launch later this year. We have another four technology CubeSats in development currently.

    If our really big satellites resemble mainframe computers, and standard satellites are PCs, then CubeSats equal smartphones – highly compact and portable, integrating miniaturised sensors with powerful but low-power computer processors and software radios. Here on Earth, aerial drones are exploiting the same technologies as CubeSats and pushing the boundaries of autonomous flight systems, so I like to think that CubeSats have the potential to become the autonomous drones of space. For instance, we’re looking at similar concepts for CubeSats such as autonomous navigation, close proximity operations, swarm formations as well as on-orbit inspection and assembly techniques, the latter to build up larger structures from basic building blocks.

    And as well as flying in new ways, we want to fly CubeSats to new places –we’ve been looking into deep space missions, and are planning later this year to invite concepts for lunar CubeSats in support of exploration objectives.

    I’m continually impressed by the sheer creativity involved in miniaturising systems to put them in these small boxes – instruments, propulsion systems, radios… European industry and research labs are pushing ahead rapidly with developing new products and we are helping them to get those products into orbit as quickly as possible, so they can maintain a competitive edge.

    Each technology CubeSat project is managed to a standard engineering and product/quality assurance approach with a tailored version of the ECSS standards for CubeSats, focussed on managing risks and maximising probability of mission success within the limited financial budgets. Along with access to the Agency’s technical expertise and facilities, this allows us to offer significant added value to Member States funding these small innovative missions within our Technology Programme.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 9:02 am on March 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA, Rapid changes point to origin of ultra-fast black hole winds   

    From ESA: “Rapid changes point to origin of ultra-fast black hole winds” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    1 March 2017
    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

    Michael Parker
    Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK
    Email: mlparker@ast.cam.ac.uk

    Andrew Fabian
    Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK
    Email: acf@ast.cam.ac.uk

    Norbert Schartel
    XMM-Newton project scientist
    Email: Norbert.Schartel@esa.int

    1
    Black hole with ultrafast winds. No image credit

    ESA and NASA space telescopes have made the most detailed observation of an ultra-fast wind flowing from the vicinity of a black hole at nearly a quarter of the speed of light.

    Outflowing gas is a common feature of the supermassive black holes that reside in the centre of large galaxies. Millions to billions of times more massive than the Sun, these black holes feed off the surrounding gas that swirls around them. Space telescopes see this as bright emissions, including X-rays, from the innermost part of the disc around the black hole.

    Occasionally, the black holes eat too much and burp out an ultra-fast wind. These winds are an important characteristic to study because they could have a strong influence on regulating the growth of the host galaxy by clearing the surrounding gas away and therefore suppressing the birth of stars.

    Using ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s NuStar telescopes, scientists have now made the most detailed observation yet of such an outflow, coming from an active galaxy identified as IRAS 13224–3809.

    ESA/XMM Newton
    ESA/XMM Newton

    NASA/NuSTAR
    NASA/NuSTAR

    The winds recorded from the black hole reach 71 000 km/s – 0.24 times the speed of light – putting it in the top 5% of fastest known black hole winds.

    XMM-Newton focused on the black hole for 17 days straight, revealing the extremely variable nature of the winds.

    “We often only have one observation of a particular object, then several months or even years later we observe it again and see if there’s been a change,” says Michael Parker of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge, UK, lead author of the paper published in Nature this week that describes the new result.

    “Thanks to this long observation campaign, we observed changes in the winds on a timescale of less than an hour for the first time.”

    The changes were seen in the increasing temperature of the winds, a signature of their response to greater X-ray emission from the disc right next to the black hole.

    Furthermore, the observations also revealed changes to the chemical fingerprints of the outflowing gas: as the X-ray emission increased, it stripped electrons in the wind from their atoms, erasing the wind signatures seen in the data.

    “The chemical fingerprints of the wind changed with the strength of the X-rays in less than an hour, hundreds of times faster than ever seen before,” says co-author Andrew Fabian, also from the Institute of Astronomy and principal investigator of the project.

    “It allows us to link the X-ray emission arising from the infalling material into the black hole, to the variability of the outflowing wind farther away.”

    “Finding such variability, and finding evidence for this link, is a key step in understanding how black hole winds are launched and accelerated, which in turn is an essential part of understanding their ability to moderate star formation in the host galaxy,” adds Norbert Schartel, ESA’s XMM-Newton project scientist.

    The response of relativistic outflowing gas to the inner accretion disk of a black hole,” by M. Parker et al. is published in Nature.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 11:59 am on February 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andromeda constellation, , , , ESA   

    From ESA: “A spiral in Andromeda” 

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    European Space Agency

    2
    Andromeda Galaxy NGC 7640 NASA/ESA

    Not to be confused with our neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy, the Andromeda constellation is one of the 88 modern constellations. More importantly for this image, it is home to the pictured NGC 7640.

    Andromeda Galaxy Adam Evans
    Andromeda Galaxy Adam Evans

    Many different classifications are used to identify galaxies by shape and structure — NGC 7640 is a barred spiral type. These are recognisable by their spiral arms, which fan out not from a circular core, but from an elongated bar cutting through the galaxy’s centre. Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is also a barred spiral galaxy. NGC 7640 might not look much like a spiral in this image, but this is due to the orientation of the galaxy with respect to Earth — or to Hubble, which acted as photographer in this case! We often do not see galaxies face on, which can make features such as spiral arms less obvious.

    There is evidence that NGC 7640 has experienced some kind of interaction in its past. Galaxies contain vast amounts of mass, and therefore affect one another via gravity. Sometimes these interactions can be mild, and sometimes hugely dramatic, with two or more colliding and merging into a new, bigger galaxy. Understanding the history of a galaxy, and what interactions it has experienced, helps astronomers to improve their understanding of how galaxies — and the stars within them — form.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 11:46 am on February 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Blue jets, ESA,   

    From ESA: “Blue jets studied from Space Station” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency
    NASA/ESA

    1
    For years, their existence has been debated: elusive electrical discharges in the upper atmosphere that sport names such as red sprites, blue jets, pixies and elves. Reported by pilots, they are difficult to study as they occur above thunderstorms.

    ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen during his mission on the International Space Station in 2015 was asked to take pictures over thunderstorms with the most sensitive camera on the orbiting outpost to look for these brief features.

    Denmark’s National Space Institute has now published the results, confirming many kilometre-wide blue flashes around 18 km altitude, including a pulsating blue jet reaching 40 km. This image is a still from a video recorded by Andreas as he flew over the Bay of Bengal at 28 800 km/h on the Station shows the electrical phenomena clearly – a first of its kind.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 3:27 pm on January 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bed bugs, ESA, Hungary joins ESA’s Europe-wide technology network   

    From ESA: “Hungary joins ESA’s Europe-wide technology network” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    This post is dedicatd to JBMT, especially for its last line.

    13 January 2017
    No writer credit found.

    ESA’s Europe-wide network dedicated to finding down-to-Earth uses for space technologies has added Hungary, the Agency’s latest member.

    Under ESA leadership, European space industry develops top-notch space technologies, many of which offer valuable attributes to terrestrial industries as well, solving production problems or forming the basis of new products or services.

    The Agency’s long-running Technology Transfer Programme supports this spin-off process, working with local industry and national technology institutes.

    The Programme oversees an expert network of technology transfer brokers across 16 European countries – now including Hungary – to find new terrestrial homes for space technologies.

    2
    Joining ceremony

    This broker network boosts Europe’s global competitiveness, injecting businesses across our continent with advanced space technology and knowhow.

    “Space technology should respond to everyday problems we are facing here on Earth,” comments Dr Károly Balázs Solymár, Deputy State Secretary of Infocommunications at Hungary’s Ministry of National Development.

    “Our top priority duties are to secure the prosperity of our country and increase the efficiency of industrial production, with space industry an important tool to help reach these goals.

    “A new opportunity is now open for Hungarian companies to make their top technology developments serve these objectives, both inside and outside the country.”

    3

    Hungary formally became ESA’s 22nd Member State on 4 November.

    “The country will benefit in three ways,” explains Aude de Clercq of ESA’s technology transfer office. “In help for space and non-space industries to collaborate and generate new business opportunities, as well as connecting Hungary and its companies to knowhow and technology from other ESA Member States.

    “It will also strengthen Hungary’s overall innovation and technology transfer capacity.”

    Hungary’s participation in the broker network will be managed by the Hungarian Space Board, operating within the Ministry of National Development, with the active involvement of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Wigner Research Centre for Physics, which is serving as the national technology transfer point.

    Péter Lévai, Director General of the Research Centre, emphasised: “ESA’s decision is based on the fact that Wigner Research Centre for Physics researchers have been participating in diverse space programmes for decades, with the support of the Hungarian Space Board, consequently acquiring a broad expertise in certain areas of space technology.

    “Simultaneously the Centre’s innovation activity has strengthened significantly in recent years, allowing well-experienced experts to help solve problems arising during technology transfers.”

    As a first step, three-years of cooperation will explore and support as many initiatives and start-ups as possible in utilising space technologies and knowhow across non-space areas. The aim is to further the international market reach of Hungarian enterprise, contribute to economic growth, strengthen competitiveness and create new businesses and jobs.

    In operation for more than a quarter of a century, ESA’s technology transfer has chalked up many successes. For instance, long-distance ultrasound systems originally developed to examine astronauts in orbit are now serving pregnant women and other patients in remote clinics. Technology designed for ESA’s Rosetta probe to sniff out organic chemistry around its target comet is now being used to detect bedbugs in top hotels.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 10:44 am on December 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ESA, Full Go Ahead for Building EXO Mars 2020   

    From ESA: “Full Go Ahead for Building EXO Mars 2020” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    19 December 2016
    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

    The first ExoMars mission arrived at the Red Planet in October and now the second mission has been confirmed to complete its construction for a 2020 launch.

    ESA and Thales Alenia Space signed a contract today that secures the completion of the European elements of the next mission.

    The main objective of the ExoMars programme is to address one of the most outstanding scientific questions of our time: is there, or has there ever been, life on Mars?

    ESA/ExoMars
    ESA/ExoMars

    The Trace Gas Orbiter will soon be exploring this question from orbit: it will take a detailed inventory of trace gases, such as methane, that might be linked to biological or geological processes. The first test of the orbiter’s science instruments was recently completed.

    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

    It will also act as a communications relay for various craft – in particular for 2020’s rover and surface platform.

    ESA’s rover will be the first capable of drilling 2 m into Mars, where ancient biomarkers may still be preserved from the harsh radiation environment on the surface.

    The Russian platform will carry instruments focused on the local atmosphere and surroundings.

    ExoMars is a joint endeavour between ESA and Roscosmos, with important contribution from NASA.

    The contract signed in Rome, Italy, secures the completion of the European elements and the rigorous tests to prove they are ready for launch.

    These include the rover itself, which will be accommodated within the Russian descent module, along with the carrier module for cruise and delivery to Mars.

    ESA is also contributing important elements of the descent module, such as the parachute, radar, inertial measurement unit, UHF radio elements, and the onboard computer and software.

    The science instruments for the rover and surface platform are funded by national agencies of ESA member states, Roscosmos and NASA following calls to the scientific community.

    The structural models of the carrier and rover are expected to be delivered in January and February 2017, respectively, along with structural and thermal models of the various descent module elements.

    “ExoMars is a cornerstone of ESA’s exploration programme,” says David Parker, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration. “Using its miniaturised life-search laboratory and advanced robotic technology, the mission will explore the Red Planet in search of new evidence to answer questions that have long fascinated humanity.

    “Following the renewed support demonstrated by ESA member states in the recent Ministerial Council, this new contract allows us to complete the flight models of the European elements and keeps us on track for a July 2020 launch.”

    “The steadfastness and tenacity of both the European and Italian space agencies has reassured all program partners, and enabled us to continue our production work so we can go ahead with this new and very complex mission,” says Donato Amoroso, Deputy CEO of Thales Alenia Space.

    The landing site for the mission is still under consideration, with Oxia Planum a strong candidate. The target region shows evidence for a past wet environment that may have had suitable conditions for preserving ancient biosignatures. ESA and Roscosmos are expected to confirm the landing site around six months before launch.

    Read the Thales Alenia Space press release on today’s event here.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 7:56 am on December 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA, GR740 next-generation microprocessor   

    From ESA: “GR740 next-generation microprocessor” 

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    European Space Agency

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    A close-up of the next-generation microprocessor that will serve a wide variety of future space missions.

    Standard terrestrial chips wouldn’t last very long in orbit under the harsh blast of space radiation. So ESA has had a long history of working with industry on specially ‘rad-hardened’ designs for space.

    This GR740 microprocessor, developed by Cobham Gaisler in Sweden and manufactured by France-based STMicroelectronics, is a quadcore design combining four embedded LEON4 cores. The LEON4 is the latest member of a series of chips that began with the LEON2-FT, developed at ESA from the second half of the 1990s.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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

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  • richardmitnick 7:28 am on December 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA, Optical stabilising reference cavity   

    From ESA: “Optical stabilising reference cavity” 

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    European Space Agency

    30/11/2016

    1
    Optical stabilising reference cavity. National Physical Laboratory.

    What looks like an abstract sculpture is actually the laser equivalent of a tuning fork – to serve a new generation of space instruments.

    “This is an ‘optical stabilising reference cavity’, through which laser light is contained between a pair of super-polished mirrors kept a precise distance apart,” explains ESA physicist Eamonn Murphy.

    ”This laser light is then used to lock the frequency of the laser – and prevent it drifting – in a similar principle to a tuning fork, as applied to musical instruments.”

    Such lasers will serve at the heart of next-generation ‘optical atomic clocks’, improving on current microwave atomic clocks used for timing and navigation, as well as enabling ultrasensitive gravity detectors.

    This 5 cm cube cavity was developed for ESA by the National Physical Laboratory, NPL, which is the national measurement institute of the UK, specialised in extremely precise measuring techniques.

    NPL used ultra-low expansion glass, resistant to changing size with temperature. A pathway was then drilled through the middle, with mirrors placed at either end.

    The working version of the cavity is enclosed in a vacuum chamber to prevent any disturbance by air molecules, followed by a thermal shroud to maintain its temperature to within a tiny fraction of a degree. It can then be placed on an acoustic damping baseplate to further isolate it from any microvibrations.

    This effort began back in 2009 with three parallel projects within ESA’s Basic Technology Research Programme, working with the national measuring institutes France and Germany as well as the UK.

    Expertise and elements from all the resulting designs will soon be incorporated into a new working prototype, supported through ESA’s General Support Technology Programme, which finalises hardware for space.

    “Our aim is to deliver a six order-of-magnitude improvement in laser linewidth from initial laser performance,” adds Eamonn, “to maintain a stable drift-free frequency, insensitive to even minute accelerations.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    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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