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  • richardmitnick 10:53 am on March 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Giant iceberg breaks off Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica", A giant iceberg-approximately 1.5 times the size of Greater Paris-broke off from the northern section of Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf on Friday 26th February 2021., , , European Space Agency - United space in Europe, , Glaciologists have been closely monitoring the many cracks and chasms that have formed in the 150 m thick Brunt Ice Shelf over the past years., , This latest rift was closely monitored by satellite imagery from ESA Sentinel-1 and NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite.   

    From European Space Agency United Space in Europe: “Giant iceberg breaks off Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe (EU)

    1
    NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite acquired this image of the Brunt Ice Shelf on January 12, 2021. The ice flows away from the Antarctic mainland and floats on the eastern Weddell Sea. The main shelf area has long been home to the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Research Station, from which scientists study Earth, atmospheric, and space weather processes. Image via NASA/ USGS.

    NASA/Landsat 8.

    A giant iceberg-approximately 1.5 times the size of Greater Paris-broke off from the northern section of Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf on Friday 26th February 2021.

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    New radar images, captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, show the 1270 sq km iceberg breaking free and moving away rapidly from the floating ice shelf.

    ESA (EU) Sentinel-1B.

    Glaciologists have been closely monitoring the many cracks and chasms that have formed in the 150 m thick Brunt Ice Shelf over the past years. In late-2019, a new crack was spotted in the portion of the ice shelf north of the McDonald Ice Rumples, heading towards another large crack near the Stancomb-Wills Glacier Tongue.

    This latest rift was closely monitored by satellite imagery, as it was seen quickly cutting across the ice shelf. Recent ice surface velocity data derived from Sentinel-1 data indicated the region north of the new crack to be the most unstable – moving around 5 m per day. Then, in the early hours of Friday 26th, the newer crack widened rapidly before finally breaking free from the rest of the floating ice shelf.

    ESA’s Mark Drinkwater said, “Although the calving of the new berg was expected and forecasted some weeks ago, watching such remote events unfold is still captivating. Over the following weeks and months, the iceberg could be entrained in the swift south-westerly flowing coastal current, run aground or cause further damage by bumping into the southern Brunt Ice Shelf. So we will be carefully monitoring the situation using data provided by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission.”

    Although currently unnamed, the iceberg has been informally dubbed ‘A-74’. Antarctic icebergs are named from the Antarctic quadrant in which they were originally sighted, then a sequential number, then, if the iceberg breaks, a sequential letter.

    The calving does not pose a threat to the presently unmanned British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI Research Station, which was re-positioned in 2017 to a more secure location after the ice shelf was deemed unsafe.

    Routine monitoring by satellites offer unprecedented views of events happening in remote regions like Antarctica, and how ice shelves manage to retain their structural integrity in response to changes in ice dynamics, air and ocean temperatures. The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission carries radar, which can return images regardless of day or night and this allows us year-round viewing, which is especially important through the long, dark, austral winter months.

    Credit: Copernicus Sentinel data (2021), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency(ESA)(EU), 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.

    ESA’s space flight programme includes human spaceflight (mainly through participation in the International Space Station program); the launch and operation of uncrewed exploration missions to other planets and the Moon; Earth observation, science and telecommunication; designing launch vehicles; and maintaining a major spaceport, the The Guiana Space Centre [Centre Spatial Guyanais; CSG also called Europe’s Spaceport) at Kourou, French Guiana. The main European launch vehicle Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs of launching and further developing this launch vehicle. The agency is also working with NASA to manufacture the Orion Spacecraft service module that will fly on the Space Launch System.

    The agency’s facilities are distributed among the following centres:

    ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands;
    Earth Observation missions at ESA Centre for Earth Observation 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;
    the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), a research institute created in 2009, is located in Harwell, England;
    and the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain.

    The European Space Agency Science Programme is a long-term programme of space science and space exploration missions.

    Foundation

    After World War II, many European scientists left Western Europe in order to work with the United States. Although the 1950s boom made it possible for Western European countries to invest in research and specifically in space-related activities, Western European scientists realized solely national projects would not be able to compete with the two main superpowers. In 1958, only months after the Sputnik shock, Edoardo Amaldi (Italy) and Pierre Auger (France), two prominent members of the Western European scientific community, met to discuss the foundation of a common Western European space agency. The meeting was attended by scientific representatives from eight countries, including Harrie Massey (United Kingdom).

    The Western European nations decided to have two agencies: one concerned with developing a launch system, ELDO (European Launch Development Organization), and the other the precursor of the European Space Agency, ESRO (European Space Research Organisation). The latter was established on 20 March 1964 by an agreement signed on 14 June 1962. From 1968 to 1972, ESRO launched seven research satellites.

    ESA in its current form was founded with the ESA Convention in 1975, when ESRO was merged with ELDO. ESA had ten founding member states: Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. These signed the ESA Convention in 1975 and deposited the instruments of ratification by 1980, when the convention came into force. During this interval the agency functioned in a de facto fashion. ESA launched its first major scientific mission in 1975, Cos-B, a space probe monitoring gamma-ray emissions in the universe, which was first worked on by ESRO.

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    Later activities

    ESA collaborated with National Aeronautics Space Agency on the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), the world’s first high-orbit telescope, which was launched in 1978 and operated successfully for 18 years. A number of successful Earth-orbit projects followed, and in 1986 ESA began Giotto, its first deep-space mission, to study the comets Halley and Grigg–Skjellerup. Hipparcos, a star-mapping mission, was launched in 1989 and in the 1990s SOHO, Ulysses and the Hubble Space Telescope were all jointly carried out with NASA. Later scientific missions in cooperation with NASA include the Cassini–Huygens space probe, to which ESA contributed by building the Titan landing module Huygens.

    As the successor of ELDO, ESA has also constructed rockets for scientific and commercial payloads. Ariane 1, launched in 1979, carried mostly commercial payloads into orbit from 1984 onward. The next two versions of the Ariane rocket were intermediate stages in the development of a more advanced launch system, the Ariane 4, which operated between 1988 and 2003 and established ESA as the world leader in commercial space launches in the 1990s. Although the succeeding Ariane 5 experienced a failure on its first flight, it has since firmly established itself within the heavily competitive commercial space launch market with 82 successful launches until 2018. The successor launch vehicle of Ariane 5, the Ariane 6, is under development and is envisioned to enter service in the 2020s.

    The beginning of the new millennium saw ESA become, along with agencies like National Aeronautics Space Agency(US), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Indian Space Research Organisation, the Canadian Space Agency(CA) and Roscosmos(RU), one of the major participants in scientific space research. Although ESA had relied on co-operation with NASA in previous decades, especially the 1990s, changed circumstances (such as tough legal restrictions on information sharing by the United States military) led to decisions to rely more on itself and on co-operation with Russia. A 2011 press issue thus stated:

    “Russia is ESA’s first partner in its efforts to ensure long-term access to space. There is a framework agreement between ESA and the government of the Russian Federation on cooperation and partnership in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and cooperation is already underway in two different areas of launcher activity that will bring benefits to both partners.”

    Notable ESA programmes include SMART-1, a probe testing cutting-edge space propulsion technology, the Mars Express and Venus Express missions, as well as the development of the Ariane 5 rocket and its role in the ISS partnership. ESA maintains its scientific and research projects mainly for astronomy-space missions such as Corot, launched on 27 December 2006, a milestone in the search for exoplanets.

    On 21 January 2019, ArianeGroup and Arianespace announced a one-year contract with ESA to study and prepare for a mission to mine the Moon for lunar regolith.

    Mission

    The treaty establishing the European Space Agency reads:

    The purpose of the Agency shall be to provide for and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications, with a view to their being used for scientific purposes and for operational space applications systems…

    ESA is responsible for setting a unified space and related industrial policy, recommending space objectives to the member states, and integrating national programs like satellite development, into the European program as much as possible.

    Jean-Jacques Dordain – ESA’s Director General (2003–2015) – outlined the European Space Agency’s mission in a 2003 interview:

    “Today space activities have pursued the benefit of citizens, and citizens are asking for a better quality of life on Earth. They want greater security and economic wealth, but they also want to pursue their dreams, to increase their knowledge, and they want younger people to be attracted to the pursuit of science and technology. I think that space can do all of this: it can produce a higher quality of life, better security, more economic wealth, and also fulfill our citizens’ dreams and thirst for knowledge, and attract the young generation. This is the reason space exploration is an integral part of overall space activities. It has always been so, and it will be even more important in the future.”

    Activities

    According to the ESA website, the activities are:

    Observing the Earth
    Human Spaceflight
    Launchers
    Navigation
    Space Science
    Space Engineering & Technology
    Operations
    Telecommunications & Integrated Applications
    Preparing for the Future
    Space for Climate

    Programmes

    Copernicus Programme
    Cosmic Vision
    ExoMars
    FAST20XX
    Galileo
    Horizon 2000
    Living Planet Programme

    Mandatory

    Every member country must contribute to these programmes:

    Technology Development Element Programme
    Science Core Technology Programme
    General Study Programme
    European Component Initiative

    Optional

    Depending on their individual choices the countries can contribute to the following programmes, listed according to:

    Launchers
    Earth Observation
    Human Spaceflight and Exploration
    Telecommunications
    Navigation
    Space Situational Awareness
    Technology

    ESA_LAB@

    ESA has formed partnerships with universities. ESA_LAB@ refers to research laboratories at universities. Currently there are ESA_LAB@

    Technische Universität Darmstadt
    École des hautes études commerciales de Paris (HEC Paris)
    Université de recherche Paris Sciences et Lettres
    University of Central Lancashire

    Membership and contribution to ESA

    By 2015, ESA was an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states. Member states participate to varying degrees in the mandatory (25% of total expenditures in 2008) and optional space programmes (75% of total expenditures in 2008). The 2008 budget amounted to €3.0 billion whilst the 2009 budget amounted to €3.6 billion. The total budget amounted to about €3.7 billion in 2010, €3.99 billion in 2011, €4.02 billion in 2012, €4.28 billion in 2013, €4.10 billion in 2014 and €4.33 billion in 2015. English is the main language within ESA. Additionally, official documents are also provided in German and documents regarding the Spacelab are also provided in Italian. If found appropriate, the agency may conduct its correspondence in any language of a member state.

    Non-full member states
    Slovenia
    Since 2016, Slovenia has been an associated member of the ESA.

    Latvia
    Latvia became the second current associated member on 30 June 2020, when the Association Agreement was signed by ESA Director Jan Wörner and the Minister of Education and Science of Latvia, Ilga Šuplinska in Riga. The Saeima ratified it on July 27. Previously associated members were Austria, Norway and Finland, all of which later joined ESA as full members.

    Canada
    Since 1 January 1979, Canada has had the special status of a Cooperating State within ESA. By virtue of this accord, the Canadian Space Agency takes part in ESA’s deliberative bodies and decision-making and also in ESA’s programmes and activities. Canadian firms can bid for and receive contracts to work on programmes. The accord has a provision ensuring a fair industrial return to Canada. The most recent Cooperation Agreement was signed on 15 December 2010 with a term extending to 2020. For 2014, Canada’s annual assessed contribution to the ESA general budget was €6,059,449 (CAD$8,559,050). For 2017, Canada has increased its annual contribution to €21,600,000 (CAD$30,000,000).

    Enlargement

    After the decision of the ESA Council of 21/22 March 2001, the procedure for accession of the European states was detailed as described the document titled The Plan for European Co-operating States (PECS). Nations that want to become a full member of ESA do so in 3 stages. First a Cooperation Agreement is signed between the country and ESA. In this stage, the country has very limited financial responsibilities. If a country wants to co-operate more fully with ESA, it signs a European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement. The ECS Agreement makes companies based in the country eligible for participation in ESA procurements. The country can also participate in all ESA programmes, except for the Basic Technology Research Programme. While the financial contribution of the country concerned increases, it is still much lower than that of a full member state. The agreement is normally followed by a Plan For European Cooperating State (or PECS Charter). This is a 5-year programme of basic research and development activities aimed at improving the nation’s space industry capacity. At the end of the 5-year period, the country can either begin negotiations to become a full member state or an associated state or sign a new PECS Charter.

    During the Ministerial Meeting in December 2014, ESA ministers approved a resolution calling for discussions to begin with Israel, Australia and South Africa on future association agreements. The ministers noted that “concrete cooperation is at an advanced stage” with these nations and that “prospects for mutual benefits are existing”.

    A separate space exploration strategy resolution calls for further co-operation with the United States, Russia and China on “LEO exploration, including a continuation of ISS cooperation and the development of a robust plan for the coordinated use of space transportation vehicles and systems for exploration purposes, participation in robotic missions for the exploration of the Moon, the robotic exploration of Mars, leading to a broad Mars Sample Return mission in which Europe should be involved as a full partner, and human missions beyond LEO in the longer term.”

    Relationship with the European Union

    The political perspective of the European Union (EU) was to make ESA an agency of the EU by 2014, although this date was not met. The EU member states provide most of ESA’s funding, and they are all either full ESA members or observers.

    History

    At the time ESA was formed, its main goals did not encompass human space flight; rather it considered itself to be primarily a scientific research organisation for uncrewed space exploration in contrast to its American and Soviet counterparts. It is therefore not surprising that the first non-Soviet European in space was not an ESA astronaut on a European space craft; it was Czechoslovak Vladimír Remek who in 1978 became the first non-Soviet or American in space (the first man in space being Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union) – on a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, followed by the Pole Mirosław Hermaszewski and East German Sigmund Jähn in the same year. This Soviet co-operation programme, known as Intercosmos, primarily involved the participation of Eastern bloc countries. In 1982, however, Jean-Loup Chrétien became the first non-Communist Bloc astronaut on a flight to the Soviet Salyut 7 space station.

    Because Chrétien did not officially fly into space as an ESA astronaut, but rather as a member of the French CNES astronaut corps, the German Ulf Merbold is considered the first ESA astronaut to fly into space. He participated in the STS-9 Space Shuttle mission that included the first use of the European-built Spacelab in 1983. STS-9 marked the beginning of an extensive ESA/NASA joint partnership that included dozens of space flights of ESA astronauts in the following years. Some of these missions with Spacelab were fully funded and organizationally and scientifically controlled by ESA (such as two missions by Germany and one by Japan) with European astronauts as full crew members rather than guests on board. Beside paying for Spacelab flights and seats on the shuttles, ESA continued its human space flight co-operation with the Soviet Union and later Russia, including numerous visits to Mir.

    During the latter half of the 1980s, European human space flights changed from being the exception to routine and therefore, in 1990, the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany was established. It selects and trains prospective astronauts and is responsible for the co-ordination with international partners, especially with regard to the International Space Station. As of 2006, the ESA astronaut corps officially included twelve members, including nationals from most large European countries except the United Kingdom.

    In the summer of 2008, ESA started to recruit new astronauts so that final selection would be due in spring 2009. Almost 10,000 people registered as astronaut candidates before registration ended in June 2008. 8,413 fulfilled the initial application criteria. Of the applicants, 918 were chosen to take part in the first stage of psychological testing, which narrowed down the field to 192. After two-stage psychological tests and medical evaluation in early 2009, as well as formal interviews, six new members of the European Astronaut Corps were selected – five men and one woman.

    Cooperation with other countries and organisations

    ESA has signed co-operation agreements with the following states that currently neither plan to integrate as tightly with ESA institutions as Canada, nor envision future membership of ESA: Argentina, Brazil, China, India (for the Chandrayan mission), Russia and Turkey.

    Additionally, ESA has joint projects with the European Union, NASA of the United States and is participating in the International Space Station together with the United States (NASA), Russia and Japan (JAXA).

    European Union
    ESA and EU member states
    ESA-only members
    EU-only members

    ESA is not an agency or body of the European Union (EU), and has non-EU countries (Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) as members. There are however ties between the two, with various agreements in place and being worked on, to define the legal status of ESA with regard to the EU.

    There are common goals between ESA and the EU. ESA has an EU liaison office in Brussels. On certain projects, the EU and ESA co-operate, such as the upcoming Galileo satellite navigation system. Space policy has since December 2009 been an area for voting in the European Council. Under the European Space Policy of 2007, the EU, ESA and its Member States committed themselves to increasing co-ordination of their activities and programmes and to organising their respective roles relating to space.

    The Lisbon Treaty of 2009 reinforces the case for space in Europe and strengthens the role of ESA as an R&D space agency. Article 189 of the Treaty gives the EU a mandate to elaborate a European space policy and take related measures, and provides that the EU should establish appropriate relations with ESA.

    Former Italian astronaut Umberto Guidoni, during his tenure as a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009, stressed the importance of the European Union as a driving force for space exploration, “…since other players are coming up such as India and China it is becoming ever more important that Europeans can have an independent access to space. We have to invest more into space research and technology in order to have an industry capable of competing with other international players.”

    The first EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration took place in Prague on 22 and 23 October 2009. A road map which would lead to a common vision and strategic planning in the area of space exploration was discussed. Ministers from all 29 EU and ESA members as well as members of parliament were in attendance.

    National space organisations of member states:

    The Centre National d’Études Spatiales(FR) (CNES) (National Centre for Space Study) is the French government space agency (administratively, a “public establishment of industrial and commercial character”). Its headquarters are in central Paris. CNES is the main participant on the Ariane project. Indeed, CNES designed and tested all Ariane family rockets (mainly from its centre in Évry near Paris)
    The UK Space Agency is a partnership of the UK government departments which are active in space. Through the UK Space Agency, the partners provide delegates to represent the UK on the various ESA governing bodies. Each partner funds its own programme.
    The Italian Space Agency A.S.I. – Agenzia Spaziale Italiana was founded in 1988 to promote, co-ordinate and conduct space activities in Italy. Operating under the Ministry of the Universities and of Scientific and Technological Research, the agency cooperates with numerous entities active in space technology and with the president of the Council of Ministers. Internationally, the ASI provides Italy’s delegation to the Council of the European Space Agency and to its subordinate bodies.
    The German Aerospace Center (DLR)[Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V.] is the national research centre for aviation and space flight of the Federal Republic of Germany and of other member states in the Helmholtz Association. Its extensive research and development projects are included in national and international cooperative programmes. In addition to its research projects, the centre is the assigned space agency of Germany bestowing headquarters of German space flight activities and its associates.
    The Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA)(ES) (National Institute for Aerospace Technique) is a Public Research Organization specialised in aerospace research and technology development in Spain. Among other functions, it serves as a platform for space research and acts as a significant testing facility for the aeronautic and space sector in the country.

    NASA

    ESA has a long history of collaboration with NASA. Since ESA’s astronaut corps was formed, the Space Shuttle has been the primary launch vehicle used by ESA’s astronauts to get into space through partnership programmes with NASA. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Spacelab programme was an ESA-NASA joint research programme that had ESA develop and manufacture orbital labs for the Space Shuttle for several flights on which ESA participate with astronauts in experiments.

    In robotic science mission and exploration missions, NASA has been ESA’s main partner. Cassini–Huygens was a joint NASA-ESA mission, along with the Infrared Space Observatory, INTEGRAL, SOHO, and others. Also, the Hubble Space Telescope is a joint project of NASA and ESA. Future ESA-NASA joint projects include the James Webb Space Telescope and the proposed Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. NASA has committed to provide support to ESA’s proposed MarcoPolo-R mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth for further analysis. NASA and ESA will also likely join together for a Mars Sample Return Mission. In October 2020 the ESA entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NASA to work together on the Artemis program, which will provide an orbiting lunar gateway and also accomplish the first manned lunar landing in 50 years, whose team will include the first woman on the Moon. Astronaut selection announcements are expected within two years of the 2024 scheduled launch date.

    Cooperation with other space agencies

    Since China has started to invest more money into space activities, the Chinese Space Agency(CN) has sought international partnerships. ESA is, beside the Russian Space Agency, one of its most important partners. Two space agencies cooperated in the development of the Double Star Mission. In 2017, ESA sent two astronauts to China for two weeks sea survival training with Chinese astronauts in Yantai, Shandong.

    ESA entered into a major joint venture with Russia in the form of the CSTS, the preparation of French Guiana spaceport for launches of Soyuz-2 rockets and other projects. With India, ESA agreed to send instruments into space aboard the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. ESA is also co-operating with Japan, the most notable current project in collaboration with JAXA is the BepiColombo mission to Mercury.

    Speaking to reporters at an air show near Moscow in August 2011, ESA head Jean-Jacques Dordain said ESA and Russia’s Roskosmos space agency would “carry out the first flight to Mars together.”

     
  • richardmitnick 8:40 am on September 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "First results from Cheops: ESA’s exoplanet observer reveals extreme alien world", , , , , European Space Agency - United space in Europe, Hot Jupiter WASP-189   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “First results from Cheops: ESA’s exoplanet observer reveals extreme alien world” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    28/09/2020

    Monika Lendl
    University of Geneva, Switzerland
    Email: monika.lendl@unige.ch

    Kate Isaak
    ESA Cheops project scientist
    Email: kate.isaak@esa.int

    ESA/CHEOPS

    1
    Artist impression of WASP-189. Credit: ESA

    ESA’s new exoplanet mission, Cheops, has found a nearby planetary system to contain one of the hottest and most extreme extra-solar planets known to date: WASP-189 b. The finding, the very first from the mission, demonstrates Cheops’ unique ability to shed light on the Universe around us by revealing the secrets of these alien worlds.

    Launched in December 2019, Cheops (the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite) is designed to observe nearby stars known to host planets. By ultra-precisely measuring changes in the levels of light coming from these systems as the planets orbit their stars, Cheops can initially characterise these planets — and, in turn, increase our understanding of how they form and evolve.

    The new finding concerns a so-called ‘ultra-hot Jupiter’ named WASP-189 b. Hot Jupiters, as the name suggests, are giant gas planets a bit like Jupiter in our own Solar System; however, they orbit far, far closer to their host star, and so are heated to extreme temperatures.

    2
    Key parameters of the WASP-189 planetary system as determined by ESA’s exoplanet mission Cheops.

    WASP-189 b sits around 20 times closer to its star than Earth does to the Sun, and completes a full orbit in just 2.7 days. Its host star is larger and more than 2000 degrees hotter than the Sun, and so appears to glow blue. “Only a handful of planets are known to exist around stars this hot, and this system is by far the brightest,” says Monika Lendl of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, lead author of the new study. “WASP-189b is also the brightest hot Jupiter that we can observe as it passes in front of or behind its star, making the whole system really intriguing.”

    First, Monika and colleagues used Cheops to observe WASP-189 b as it passed behind its host star – an occultation. “As the planet is so bright, there is actually a noticeable dip in the light we see coming from the system as it briefly slips out of view,” explains Monika. “We used this to measure the planet’s brightness and constrain its temperature to a scorching 3200 degrees C.”

    This makes WASP-189 b one of the hottest and most extreme planets, and entirely unlike any of the planets of the Solar System. At such temperatures, even metals such as iron melt and turn to gas, making the planet a clearly uninhabitable one.

    3
    The WASP-189 system as seen by Cheops.

    Next, Cheops watched as WASP-189 b passed in front of its star – a transit. Transits can reveal much about the size, shape, and orbital characteristics of a planet. This was true for WASP-189 b, which was found to be larger than thought at almost 1.6 times the radius of Jupiter.

    “We also saw that the star itself is interesting – it’s not perfectly round, but larger and cooler at its equator than at the poles, making the poles of the star appear brighter,” says Monika. “It’s spinning around so fast that it’s being pulled outwards at its equator! Adding to this asymmetry is the fact that WASP-189 b’s orbit is inclined; it doesn’t travel around the equator, but passes close to the star’s poles.”

    Seeing such a tilted orbit adds to the existing mystery of how hot Jupiters form. For a planet to have such an inclined orbit, it must have formed further out and then been pushed inwards. This is thought to happen as multiple planets within a system jostle for position, or as an external influence – another star, for instance – disturbs the system, pushing gas giants towards their star and onto very short orbits that are highly tilted. “As we measured such a tilt with Cheops, this suggests that WASP-189 b has undergone such interactions in the past,” adds Monika.

    Monika and colleagues used Cheops’ highly precise observations and optical capabilities to reveal the secrets of WASP-189 b. Cheops opened its ‘eye’ in January of this year and began routine science operations in April, and has been working to expand our understanding of exoplanets and the nearby cosmos in the months since.

    “This first result from Cheops is hugely exciting: it is early definitive evidence that the mission is living up to its promise in terms of precision and performance,” says Kate Isaak, Cheops project scientist at ESA.

    Thousands of exoplanets, the vast majority with no analogues in our Solar System, have been discovered in the past quarter of a century, with many more to come from both current and future ground-based surveys and space missions.

    “Cheops has a unique ‘follow-up’ role to play in studying such exoplanets,” adds Kate. “It will search for transits of planets that have been discovered from the ground, and, where possible, will more precisely measure the sizes of planets already known to transit their host stars. By tracking exoplanets on their orbits with Cheops, we can make a first-step characterisation of their atmospheres and determine the presence and properties of any clouds present.”

    In the next few years, Cheops will follow up on hundreds of known planets orbiting bright stars, building on and extending what has been done here for WASP-189b. The mission is the first in a series of three ESA science missions focusing on exoplanet detection and characterisation: it has significant discovery potential also – from identifying prime targets for future missions that will probe exoplanetary atmospheres to searching for new planets and exomoons.

    “Cheops will not only deepen our understanding of exoplanets,” says Kate, “but also that of our own planet, Solar System, and the wider cosmic environment.”

    Notes for editors

    The hot dayside of WASP-189 b and its gravity-darkened host star seen by CHEOPS by M. Lendl et al. appears in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Plans underway for new polar ice and snow topography mission", , , ESA/Airbus Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter CRISTAL Mission, European Space Agency - United space in Europe   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Plans underway for new polar ice and snow topography mission” 

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    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    21/09/2020

    Monitoring the cryosphere is essential to fully assess, predict and adapt to climate variability and change. Given the importance of this fragile component of the Earth system, today ESA, along with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space, have signed a contract to develop the Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter mission, known as CRISTAL.

    ESA/Airbus Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter CRISTAL Mission depiction.

    With a launch planned in 2027, the CRISTAL mission will carry, for the first time on a polar mission, a dual-frequency radar altimeter, and microwave radiometer, that will measure and monitor sea-ice thickness, overlying snow depth and ice-sheet elevations.

    These data will support maritime operations in the polar oceans and contribute to a better understanding of climate processes. CRISTAL will also support applications related to coastal and inland waters, as well as providing observations of ocean topography.


    CRISTAL in action

    The mission will ensure the long-term continuation of radar altimetry ice elevation and topographic change records, following on from previous missions such as ESA’s Earth Explorer CryoSat mission and other heritage missions.

    With a contract secured worth € 300 million, Airbus Defence and Space has been selected to develop and build the new CRISTAL mission, while Thales Alenia Space has been chosen as the prime contractor to develop its Interferometric Radar Altimeter for Ice and Snow (IRIS).

    ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, says, “I am extremely pleased to have the contract signed so we can continue the development of this crucial mission. It will be critical in monitoring climate indicators, including the variability of Arctic sea ice, and ice sheet and ice cap melting.”

    The contract for CRISTAL is the second out of the six new high-priority candidate missions to be signed – after the Copernicus Carbon Dioxide Monitoring mission (CO2M) in late-July. The CRISTAL mission is part of the expansion of the Copernicus Space Component programme of ESA, in partnership with the European Commission.

    The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data, as well as a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring and natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 9:02 am on September 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A new view of Enceladus", , , , , European Space Agency - United space in Europe,   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “A new view of Enceladus” 

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    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    18/09/2020

    1
    Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Credit NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens team.

    A global infrared mosaic of Saturn’s moon Enceladus created using a complete dataset from the Cassini spacecraft has revealed new detail on the moon’s surface.

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft.

    Cassini orbited Saturn and its moons from 2004 to 2017. The mission ended when the spacecraft was intentionally plunged into the planet’s atmosphere, but new discoveries are still being made with the data.

    During the mission lifetime, Cassini flew by Enceladus 147 times, with 23 close encounters of the icy moon. The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) collected data that can be used to reveal information on the temperature and composition of the surface, as well as the sizes and crystallinity of ice grains.

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

    A study published in Icarus has produced a global spectral mosaic using the complete VIMS dataset. The full-colour images were created by combining three IR channels of the VIMS spectro-imager, represented here by red, green, and blue colours, and overlapping these on a mosaic created using the Imaging Science Subsystem on Cassini by another team.

    The image shows five infrared views of Enceladus centred on the leading side, the Saturn-facing side, and the trailing side in the top row, and the North and South Pole in the bottom row. Click here for an annotated version. The globe can also be explored interactively.

    The scientists used a photometric correction to reveal new details on the surface of the moon. Enceladus has a surface composed almost of pure water ice, which makes it highly reflective, but the observed brightness depends on the properties of the surface material, the surface shape, and the angle at which it is viewed. Correcting for these variations was necessary to show the differences in composition and physical state at the surface.

    By using these improved photometric corrections, the scientists have been able to reveal spectral variations which correspond to the different colours in the images. These are particularly striking in the region with four large tectonic faults known as the Tiger Stripes at the South Pole. The image of the South Pole also reveals a clear boundary between terrains where the light red colour meets the blue region. The smooth red colour seen in the first image is likely due to recently exposed freshwater ice. This could be the surface signature of hotspots on the seafloor.

    In the future the scientists plan to apply their technique to other icy moons to compare them with Enceladus. Similar infrared mapping by the Juice and Europa Clipper missions will be able to detect recent activity on Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 9:10 am on September 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , European Space Agency - United space in Europe, Metal-mesh antenna reflector   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Mesh reflector for shaped radio beams” 

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    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    17/09/2020

    1

    This prototype 2.6-m diameter metal-mesh antenna reflector represents a big step forward for the European space sector: versions can be manufactured to reproduce any surface pattern that antenna designers wish, something that was previously possible only with traditional solid antennas.

    “This is really a first for Europe,” says ESA antenna engineer Jean-Christophe Angevain. “China and the US have also been working hard on similar shaped mesh reflector technology. It is needed so that sufficiently large antennas can be deployed in orbit, which would otherwise be too bulky to fit inside a launcher fairing, while also meeting required performance levels.”

    ESA’s AMPER (Advanced techniques for mesh reflector with improved radiation pattern performance) project performed with Large Space Structures GmbH in Germany as prime and TICRA in Denmark as subcontractor.

    Antenna reflectors for satellites are often surprisingly ‘lumpy’ looking. Their basic paraboloid convex shape is distorted with additional peaks and valleys. These serve to contour the resulting radio frequency beam, typically to boost signal gain over target countries and minimise it beyond their borders.

    “This tailored surface shaping is traditionally done with traditional metal or carbon fibre reinforced plastic composite reflectors,” adds Jean-Christophe. “The challenge was how to reproduce such shaping using a mesh reflector design. The obvious solution would have been a conventional tension truss double layer solution, with the mesh held together tautly on an alternating ‘push and ‘pull’ basis. A smart alternative solution has been proposed and followed by the team.”

    Leri Datashvili, CEO and Chief Designer of Large Space Structures explains: “The design of our shaped mesh reflector is based on tension members supported by a peripheral truss structure which enables decoupling of the shaped surface and the structure. Therefore, the design can be implemented for any size of reflector, for any frequencies ranging from P-band to Ka-band. Furthermore, either deployable or fixed reflector technology can be realised.”

    “This 2.6-m ‘breadboard’ prototype proves the concept at C-band frequency, and the RF measurements have shown good correlation with radio-frequency and mechanical predictions” adds Jean-Christophe.

    The AMPER project was supported through ESA’s Technology Development Element, with prototype testing carried out in ESA’s Hertz chamber at its ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands. As a next step the AMPER team plan to produce a deployable version, aimed at Earth observation as well as telecommunications uses.

    Meanwhile this prototype reflector will be on show during next month’s virtual ESA Open Day at ESTEC.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 12:24 pm on September 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hera: ESA’s planetary defence mission", Astrophysicist and and Queen guitarist Brian May tells the story of the ESA mission that would be humanity's first-ever spacecraft to visit a double asteroid., European Space Agency - United space in Europe, ,   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Hera: ESA’s planetary defence mission” 

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    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    Hera will show us things we’ve never seen before. Astrophysicist and and Queen guitarist Brian May tells the story of the ESA mission that would be humanity’s first-ever spacecraft to visit a double asteroid.

    Brian May, astrophysicist and Queen Guitarist.

    The asteroid system – named Didymos – is typical of the thousands that pose an impact risk to our planet, and even the smaller of the two would be big enough to destroy an entire city if it were to collide with Earth.

    Hera will help ESA to find out if it would be possible to deflect such an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. The mission will revolutionise our understanding of asteroids and how to protect ourselves from them, and therefore could be crucial for saving our planet.

    First, NASA will crash its DART spacecraft into the smaller asteroid – known as Didymoon – before ESA’s Hera comes in to map the resulting impact crater and measure the asteroid’s mass. Hera will carry two CubeSats on board, which will be able to fly much closer to the asteroid’s surface, carrying out crucial scientific studies, before touching down. Hera’s up-close observations will turn asteroid deflection into a well-understood planetary defence technique.

    The Hera mission will be presented to ESA’s Space19+ meeting this November, where Europe’s space ministers will take a final decision on flying the mission, as part of the Agency’s broader planetary defence initiatives that aim to protect European and world citizens.

    ESA’s proposed Hera spaceraft depiction.

    NASA DART Double Impact Redirection Test vehicle depiction schematic.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 7:31 am on September 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "MOSAiC Arctic expedition reaches North Pole", , , , European Space Agency - United space in Europe   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “MOSAiC Arctic expedition reaches North Pole” 

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    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    09/09/2020

    1
    The Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition will make a major contribution to Arctic climate science. Spearheaded by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), it is the biggest polar expedition of all time. It involves the Polarstern German research icebreaker spending a year trapped in the sea ice so that scientists from around the world can study the Arctic as the epicentre of global warming and gain fundamental insights that are key to better understand global climate change – and ESA is contributing with a range of experiments.

    2
    MOSAiC Remote Sensing Site.

    On 19 August 2020, the world’s largest and longest polar research expedition – known as MOSAiC – reached the North Pole after making an unplanned detour owing to lighter-than-usual sea ice conditions. The expedition is now entering its final stage, during which researchers will study the last piece of the Arctic puzzle: the growth of new sea ice marking the end of the summer season.

    In September 2019, the German research icebreaker Polarstern set sail from Tromsø, Norway, to spend a year drifting through the Arctic Ocean – trapped in ice. After leaving the ice floe it had been sitting in for the previous ten months, the icebreaker travelled through the Fram Strait and along the northeast coast of Greenland – a region that is usually home to thick, multi-year ice.

    Using radar satellite imagery and sea-ice data, researchers onboard the vessel determined that the ice conditions this year were ‘lighter than usual’ and were able to complete their journey to the North Pole in just six days.

    Onboard, during the year-long experiment, around 600 researchers from 20 countries have been carrying out various experiments on the sea ice surrounding the ship in order to gain fundamental insights that are key to better understand global climate change.

    Tânia Casal, Scientific Campaign Coordinator for the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), explains, “The vital importance of these measurements is related to the fact that they are made continuously and simultaneously throughout the full year. The data acquired will give the scientific community an exceptional dataset that will be studied for years to come.”

    One of ESA’s experiments includes the use of a new ground-based dual frequency radar which has been used to measure sea-ice of a different age and thickness and is also able to distinguish between the snow and ice among the first results.

    Tânia comments, “Even though the conditions on the ice have been quite challenging due to the unusual weather conditions faced this year, first results have already revealed that warming events and associated changes of the snow surface can lead to an underestimation of the ice concentration – a major variable when studying the Arctic conditions.”

    Understanding snow and measuring snow depth is very relevant also for ESA’s CryoSat and SMOS missions, as well as preparing for the next three Copernicus high priority candidate missions: CIMR, CRISTAL and ROSE-L.

    Now that the Polarstern has reached the North Pole, researchers have picked out a new ice floe to attach to in order to observe and study the re-freezing of melt ponds and the start of autumn freezing of sea ice.

    Normally, the North Pole is not usually covered by satellite data, and therefore leaves what is called a ‘pole hole’ visible in most Arctic maps. Ordinarily, vessels do not journey near the North Pole, so ice support services are not warranted or needed.

    This posed a challenge during the MOSAiC expedition when the Polarstern ship drifted north of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 routine coverage to continuously study the development of the sea ice. In order to get around this, the WMO Polar Space Task Group (PSTG), which comprises 13 Space Agencies, has undertaken a special tasking of satellites to obtain data of the seldom imaged North Pole region.


    This animation shows the Arctic sea ice extent from 1 September 2019 until 31 August 2020. The circle in the middle indicates a lack of data, what is often referred to as a ‘pole hole’ and is visible in most Arctic maps.
    On 19 August 2020, the world’s largest and longest polar research expedition – known as MOSAiC – reached the North Pole after making an unplanned detour owing to lighter-than-usual sea ice conditions. The expedition now enters its final stage, where researchers will study the last piece of the Arctic puzzle: the refreezing of melt points and freezing of new sea ice at the end of the summer season. Credit:©JAXA/University of Bremen/ESA

    This involved obtaining observations from CSA RADARSAT-2 and RADARSAT Constellation Missions, DLR’s TerraSAR-X and ASI’s COSMO-SkyMed mission. ESA’s Mark Drinkwater says, “The Polar Space Task Group has made a very special effort in the name of MOSAiC and the Year of Polar Prediction science to collect data in a location where normally there is none.”

    Depending on ice and weather conditions, the Polarstern will follow the Transpolar Drift southwards, from its current position at 88° North. The Polarstern is expected to complete the final stage of the experiment and return to Bremerhaven, Germany, by mid-October.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 9:00 am on September 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ESA’s polar station marks three decades satellite tracking", , , , , , ESA’s Kiruna ground station, European Space Agency - United space in Europe, The station is equipped with two dish antennas 15 m and 13 m in diameter., The station is mainly devoted to the support of Earth Observation missions.   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “ESA’s polar station marks three decades satellite tracking” 

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    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    09/09/2020

    1
    ESA Kiruna station.

    North of Sweden and the Arctic Circle, ESA’s Kiruna ground station is celebrating 30 years looking skyward, connecting us to many of our beloved and most pioneering space explorers.

    The station, equipped with two dish antennas 15 m and 13 m in diameter, is a crucial space gateway, bringing data down to Earth that lets us study our planet’s oceans, water and atmosphere, understand weather patterns and the rapid advance of climate change.

    A fairy tale start

    In 1986, ESA and Sweden agreed to establish satellite tracking facilities near the top of the world, in the region of Salmijärvi. Here, on a 20-hectare site some 38 kilometres east of Kiruna town and just 10km from the ESRANGE launch site, the Station was sited.

    In September 1990, His Majesty The King of Sweden accompanied by ESA’s then Director General Reimar Lüst pressed the button that triggered the antennas first track, inaugurating the station and marking the start of its operational life.

    Situated above the Arctic Circle at 67.9 deg latitude, Kiruna is the northernmost station in ESA’s Estrack network, an optimal geographical location to track polar-orbiting satellites. As such, the station is mainly devoted to the support of Earth Observation missions, bringing home data from some of ESA’s renowned windows on the world.

    Kiruna’s first job

    In July 1991, the station began routine support to ESA’s then-new ERS-1 mission, with an on-site staff of some 25 engineers.

    2
    ESA ERS 1 & 2.

    A few years later in 1994, the station’s systems got their first upgrade, meaning the station could also support the follow-on ERS-2 mission, launched the following year. The two radar missions could then be operated on a tandem basis, marking a first for Europe.

    In 2002, Kiruna took on communication responsibility for ESA’s Envisat mission, the largest civilian Earth Observation satellite ever flown.

    3
    ESA Envisat.

    As the 8-tonne satellite and its 10 onboard instruments would be producing large quantities of data it was again necessary to upgrade the station. A second, 13-metre dish antenna was installed to deliver high-data-rate capability in X-Band.

    Kiruna’s antennas and station systems are normally operated remotely from ESA’s Network Operations Centre, located at the Agency’s mission control in Darmstadt, Germany. Here, operators are on duty 24 hours a day, all year round.

    For maintenance and day-to-day troubleshooting on site, Kiruna relies on a local team of engineers. These specialists also work ‘on console’ if direct intervention is needed during critical spacecraft manoeuvres or launch activities.

    Over the course of 30 years Kiruna station has established an enviable record providing reliable communication links with dozens of Europe’s most important and renowned missions, such as historic star-mapper Hipparcos and gravity-measuring GOCE.

    ESA/Hipparcos satellite.

    and gravity-measuring GOCE.

    ESA/GOCE Spacecraft.

    Kiruna’s antennas and station systems are normally operated remotely from ESA’s Network Operations Centre, located at the Agency’s mission control in Darmstadt, Germany. Here, operators are on duty 24 hours a day, all year round.

    For maintenance and day-to-day troubleshooting on site, Kiruna relies on a local team of engineers. These specialists also work ‘on console’ if direct intervention is needed during critical spacecraft manoeuvres or launch activities.

    Round-the-clock communication

    From its remote polar location, Kiruna today supports a wide range of European missions including Integral, an orbiting gamma-ray telescope, and , a set of four identical satellites flying in a tetrahedral formation to gather data on the plasma environment between the Sun and Earth.

    ESA/Integral.

    ESA/Cluster quartet.

    Kiruna also supports three of ESA’s Earth Explorer missions, wind-mapper Aeolus, the magnetic field measuring trio Swarm and ice-charting Cryosat-2. As well as these, the station supports the five Sentinel satellites flown by ESA on behalf of the European Union’s Copernicus programme, providing accurate, timely and freely accessible environmental monitoring.

    ESA ADM-Aeolus satellite.

    ESA/CryoSat 2.

    ESA Sentinels (Copernicus).

    In a typical month, more than 700 hours of communication link-ups are made between Kiruna’s two terminals and passing satellites, up to 15 different spacecraft in all.

    This means the station is working around the clock, providing tracking support for 23 hours and 20 minutes each day with an average service performance success of 99.8%. These communication ‘passes’ enable the station to download vital science data and upload fresh commands for the coming orbits.

    Ever evolving, Kiruna eyes the future.

    Three decades have passed since Kiruna’s royal inauguration, and in that time the ground station has cemented itself as one of Europe’s most important space facilities both for ESA and its partner agencies.

    In those years the station has undergone continuous development and expansion, driven by the increasing technical and scientific needs of the missions it has supported.

    As space technology evolves further and its importance in our lives grows, Kiruna station will need to keep reinventing itself. Upcoming Earth Observation missions will transmit higher rates of data at new frequency bands, and the station will need to be ready for these and all the as-yet uninvented technologies that space missions will continue to pioneer.

    Happy birthday, Kiruna! We look forward to the next 30 years.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 8:46 am on September 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Rainbow comet with a heart of sponge", , , , , , , European Space Agency - United space in Europe, Philae lander   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Rainbow comet with a heart of sponge” 

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    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    1

    A permeable heart with a hardened facade –the resting place of Rosetta’s lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is revealing more about the interior of the ‘rubber duck’ shaped-body looping around the Sun.

    A recent study [MNRAS] suggests that the comet’s interior is more porous than the material near the surface. The results confirm that solar radiation has significantly modified the comet’s surface as it travels through space between the orbits of Jupiter and Earth. Heat from the Sun triggers an ejection and subsequent falling back of material.

    Location, location, location. That was key for the radar instrument on the Rosetta spacecraft and its Philae lander, which was designed to probe the comet’s nucleus. The CONSERT experiment involved two antennas sending precise signals to each other. But when Philae went missing upon landing on November 2014, scientists had to work with estimated values.

    Philae operated for over two days on the surface – 63 hours, to be precise.

    “We managed to define the region where the lander was with a margin of about 150 m. The real landing site was in this region,” explains Wlodek Kofman, emeritus principal investigator of CONSERT.

    It took nearly two years to find out where Philae was. In September 2016 the exact position of Philae was retrieved within the area identified by CONSERT.

    Precise 3D models of the comet with Philae in the picture “allowed us to revisit the measurements and improve our analysis of the interior,” says Wlodek.

    The graphic shows the signal connecting the CONSERT instrument on Philae, on the surface of the comet, to the one on the Rosetta orbiter. The fan like appearance is a result of the motion of Rosetta along its orbit, with the colours marking the separate signal paths as the orbit evolves.

    The image below shows the signals in more detail, propagating inside the comet from Philae to the points from where they leave the comet to the orbiter. The curving is a result of the projection of its paths on the bumpy surface of the comet.

    The bluer colour indicates more shallow paths (just a few centimetres), while the redder tones show where the signals penetrated below 100 m in depth.

    The time for the signal to travel between the two radars offers insights into the comet’s nucleus, such as porosity and composition. The team discovered that rays propagated at different velocities, indicating varying densities within the comet.

    The discussion is still open, but Wlodek believes that “this strongly suggeststhat the less dense interior has kept its pristine nature.” Known as the most primitive objects in our cosmic neighbourhood, comets might hold, deep inside, valuable clues about the formation of our Solar System.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 8:48 am on August 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "CryoSat taken to new heights for ice science", , , , European Space Agency - United space in Europe,   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “CryoSat taken to new heights for ice science” 

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    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    From United Space in Europe

    8.3.20

    Ice plays a critical role in keeping Earth’s climate cool, but our rapidly warming world is taking its toll and ice is in general decline. For more than 10 years, ESA’s CryoSat has been returning critical information on how the height of our fragile ice fields is changing. Nevertheless, to gain even better insight, ESA has spent the last two weeks nudging CryoSat into a higher orbit to synchronise it with NASA’s ICESat-2 so that scientists can benefit from simultaneous measurements from different space sensors.

    ESA/CryoSat 2

    NASA ICESat 2 lauched in 2018

    CryoSat carries a radar altimeter and NASA’s ICESat-2 carries a laser. Both instruments measure the height of ice by emitting a signal and timing how long it takes the signal to bounce off the ice surface and return to the satellite. Knowing the height of the ice allows scientists to calculate its thickness.

    However, snow can build up on top of the ice and can hide the ice’s true thickness.

    While CryoSat’s radar penetrates through the snow layer and reflects closely off the ice below, ICESat-2’s laser reflects off the top of the snow layer. Blending simultaneous satellite laser and radar readings means that snow depth can be measured directly from space for the first time.

    Knowing the depth of the overlying snow will improve the accuracy of sea-ice thickness measurements and improve our knowledge of how snow and ice surfaces, with different physical properties, scatter back the signal from the instruments.

    ESA’s CryoSat mission manager, Tommaso Parrinello, says, “The idea of having CryoSat’s orbit align with that of NASA’s ICESat-2 goes back some years now. It has taken a lot of planning and is a significant undertaking, something we haven’t done before.

    “Aligning CryoSat with ICESat-2 is like having one satellite with two instruments.”

    ICESat-2 orbits at an altitude of around 500 km and CryoSat used to orbit an altitude of around 720 km.

    Two weeks ago, flight operators at ESA’s spacecraft operation centre in Germany began gently firing CryoSat’s thrusters to raise its orbit by almost 1 km to bring it into synch with ICESat-2.

    Ignacio Clerigo, ESA’s CryoSat spacecraft operations manager, explained, “CryoSat orbit was much higher and slower than ICESat-2, so we couldn’t align them by having them orbit in tandem. Instead, we raised CryoSat by 900 m through a series of 15 precisely timed thruster burns. The two satellites will now overlap every 19th orbit of CryoSat and 20th orbit of ICESat-2.”

    Since sea ice floats in the ocean, currents and wind move it around. Under normal circumstances, the two satellites would take measurements over the same location a number of hours apart, so it could be different ice under their normal orbital paths.

    Dr Parrinello continued, “By raising CryoSat’s orbit we find this sweet spot where every 1.5 days the two satellites will pass over areas of the polar regions around the same time. These few minutes of almost coincident measurements will be key for studying sea ice. CryoSat will remain in this orbit now until the mission is over.”

    Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, remarked, “Having both agency’s satellites aligned in orbit is a wonderful example of our organisations working together to bring greater benefits to science. These coincident measurements are going to be very important for scientists studying our changing world.”

    Sea ice plays an important role in the global climate. For example, it helps maintain Earth’s energy balance while helping keep polar regions cool by reflecting incident sunlight back into space. It also keeps the air cool by forming an insulating barrier between the cold air above and the warmer ocean water below.

    This new information could help improve climate models, particularly for Antarctica. The models scientists currently use to gauge snow depth when calculating sea ice work reasonably well for the Arctic, but less so for the Antarctic.

    It could also help tackle the difficult task of measuring sea ice in summer. In warmer weather, ponds of meltwater on the ice swamp the signal from CryoSat, but ICESat-2 has the precision to detect these ponds and differentiate between them and the breaks between floes of ice.

    4
    Sea ice plays an important role in the global climate. For example, it helps maintain Earth’s energy balance while helping keep polar regions cool by reflecting incident sunlight back into space. It also keeps the air cool by forming an insulating barrier between the cold air above and the warmer ocean water below.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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