An international team of astronomers has used multiple telescopes to study two large patches of sky, searching for the X-ray emissions from distant galaxy clusters. It's hoped that the work will provide insights into the nature of dark matter and dark energy.
ESA has used a robotic arm to simulate a spacecraft's final approach to an asteroid. The laboratory test, which took place recently at the Madrid headquarters of the GMV company in Spain, is part of the preparation for the proposed Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), which would be man's first visit to a double asteroid system.
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 ofRelativity.
A researcher at Switzerland's University of Zurich has combined 25 years worth of satellite imagery to show the complex behavior of glaciers in a single second. The effort made use of data collected by NASA's Landsat satellites, focusing on the Karakoram mountain range in Asia.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has officially selected the Fluorescence Explorer – or FLEX – as the eighth Earth Explorer satellite. The mission will study vegetation around the planet, gathering information about planet health at a time when a growing population is putting increased strain on food production.
Having failed to achieve their intended orbit following a launch in August 2014, a pair of ESA Galileo satellites are being re-tasked to test Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. More precisely, the satellites will examine the effects of gravity on the passage of time, observing the phenomenon in a detail four times greater than any previous mission.
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.
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.
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.
ESA astronomers will be looking to the skies on November 13, when a piece of debris – thought to be part of an old rocket – plummets back to Earth. The agency believes that by studying the reentry, it'll be able to gather useful data that could lead to more accurate predictions of how objects interact with our atmosphere.