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ESA

— Space

ESA's LISA Pathfinder experiment launches to explore Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity

ESA's LISA Pathfinder experiment has successfully launched atop a Vega rocket from the agency's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, and completed initial maneuvers required to place the probe in a low, stable orbit. The experiment will seek to observe tiny ripples in space known as gravitational waves, which were first predicted by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity.

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— Space

Mars Express sheds light on rare Martian auroras

Auroras are common spectacles in Earth's Arctic and Antarctic regions, but on Mars they're rare and not nearly as attention grabbing. Visible only in the ultraviolet, they may not be as entertaining as their earthly counterparts, but after a decade of measurements by ESA’s unmanned Mars Express orbiter, the rare Martian auroras are telling scientists a lot about the local vestigial magnetic fields of the Red Planet.

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— Space

ESA shortlists CubeSat concepts to accompany its Asteroid Impact Mission

Back in February, ESA announced that a pair of CubeSats would fly aboard its Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), which forms part of the larger Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) operation. Now, ESA has shortlisted five concepts missions for the flight, including projects that plan to study asteroid composition, measure the gravity field of the object, and much more.

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— Space

Rosetta spacecraft detects molecular oxygen outgassing from Comet 67P

Despite being the third most abundant element in the Universe, molecular oxygen, or O₂, is relatively rare off Earth. That's why it raised a few eyebrows at ESA when the space agency's Rosetta spacecraft discovered oxygen molecules jetting out of the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. According to the Rosetta team, the oxygen is outgassing in such abundance that its presence may date back to the formation of the comet over 4.6 billion years ago.

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