Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

ESA

The LISA Pathfinder is composed of a science and propulsion module (Image: Airbus)

A European Space Agency (ESA) mission aimed at testing new technologies for understanding the universe has left Britain for final testing before being launched into space. The LISA Pathfinder mission's propulsion and science modules left Airbus Defence and Space for Industrie Anlagen Betriebs Gesellschaft (IABG) in Germany for final tests before shipment to the ESA launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, where they will be shot into low-Earth orbit atop a Vega rocket.  Read More

The CubeSats would hitch a ride with ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission (Image:ESA/APL)

CubeSats offer a way to get into space on the cheap. They're compact, inexpensive, and they can piggyback on larger launch payloads to get into orbit. The trouble is, this piggybacking is often like trying to hitchhike cross country on a ride that only goes to the edge of town. The European Space Agency is widening the scope a little by opening a competition for CubeSats to ride into deep space on its Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM).  Read More

French transportation company Alstom is running the capillary cooling system experiment on...

The Paris Metro is one of the world's great underground railways and not the sort of place you'd expect to find cutting edge satellite technology at work. But for the last year and a half a cooling system developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its satellites has been making Trains on Metro Line One more comfortable. The new cooling system works without moving parts and frees up more space to be enjoyed by passengers while saving costs.  Read More

Artist's concept of a supermassive black hole (Image: ASA/JPL-Caltech)

Supermassive black holes are titanic oddities. Usually sited at the core of galaxies and various high-energy phenomena such as quasars, their mass can be anywhere from that of a hundred thousand to billions of suns. Now observations from NASA and ESA space telescopes are shedding light on the incredibly powerful cosmic winds they produce, which can have more energy than an entire galaxy.  Read More

Comet 67P as seen from an altitude of 8.7 km (5.4 mi) (Image: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam)

In a space-age game of chicken, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta probe made its closest approach to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko last weekend. The spacecraft, which has ceased orbiting the comet due to 67P's increased activity as it approaches the Sun, came within 6 km (3.7 mi) of the surface over the Imhotep region of the larger of the comet’s two lobes, with the up close and personal maneuver taking place, appropriately enough, on Valentine's Day.  Read More

The plume was discovered by telescopic observations (Image: W. Jaeschke and D. Parker)

Astronomers are scratching their heads over mysterious plumes that have been sighted in the atmosphere of Mars. First seen by amateur astronomers using Earthbound telescopes, the plumes are at an altitude much higher than that of any clouds yet seen on the Red Planet, and may not even be clouds.  Read More

IXV lifting off atop its Vega launch vehicle (Photo:  ESA–S. Corvaja, 2015)

ESA's IXV experimental spaceplane has successfully carried out its 100-minute mission to test technology re-entry and navigation technology for the next generation of European spacecraft. Whilst often described as a spaceplane, the IXV is in reality an atmospheric re-entry testing package wrapped in what appears to be a basic space shuttle fuselage. The resulting data accrued from the launch will inform a wide range of endeavors, spanning from re-supply trips to the ISS, to manned return missions to Mars.  Read More

Four-image mosaic of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko snapped by Rosetta on Jan. 21 (Image:...

ESA's Rosetta orbiter is preparing to make a daring 6 km (3.7 miles) pass of one of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko's most active regions – an area on the comet's larger lobe designated as Imhotep. As the comet moves closer to the Sun, mission controllers are expecting to see an exponential increase in volatile activity, and ESA hopes that the new orbits planned for the little probe will allow scientists to gain a better understanding of these effects.  Read More

FLEX aims to detect abnormal peaks of florescence from space, providing warnings of stress...

The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully tested its Fluorescence Explorer mission (FLEX), which is vying for a spot on the organisation’s eight Earth Explorer satellite. The mission, which aims to create global maps of photosynthetic activity, will allow for the identification of vegetation suffering degrees of stress that simply aren’t visible to the human eye. It has the potential to significantly further our understanding of the global carbon cycle, and could have an impact on agricultural management.  Read More

Sequence of images taken by Rosetta as Philae descended to the comet surface (Image: ESA/R...

After months of searching, the Euopean Space Agency (ESA) has given up the hunt for the lost Philae comet lander. Despite having narrowed the final resting place of the unmanned probe to a "landing strip" measuring 350 x 30 m (1,150 x 100 ft) on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the space agency has been unable to locate it and has commanded the Rosetta spacecraft to move into a higher orbit as it continues its science mission.  Read More

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