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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

The ESA's Integral satellite will make its way back to Earth in 2029 (Image: ESA/Medialab)

After 12 years in orbit, the European Space Agency (ESA) is in the process of enacting its retirement plan for the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (Integral). However, while the agency is adjusting the orbit of the satellite now, the spacecraft will continue to make observations for some years, and won’t re-enter Earth’s atmosphere until the late 2020s.  Read More

The Sentinel-1A (left) and CryoSat (right) satellites have provided key data on the degred...

Both the ESA’s Sentinel-1A and CryoSat satellites have detected a significant degree of ice loss in the Austfonna ice cap, located on Norway’s Nordaustlandet island in the Svalbard archipelago. Parts of the ice cap have thinned by as much as 50 m (164 ft) since 2012 – around a sixth of its total thickness, and the speed of the outer glacier has increased to 3.8 km (2.4 miles) per year.  Read More

Comet regional maps (Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/D...

A generation ago, Astronomers thought of comets as simple things – huge dirty snowballs of rock and ice with a few organic chemicals thrown in. But after six months orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the unmanned Rosetta probe has shown them to be far more complex and active than previously thought.  Read More

This workshop and others like it could be the key to making the space industry more enviro...

Key orbits frequented by GPS and communications satellites are becoming more and more hazardous, as man-made debris presents an increasingly palpable danger to the valuable assets orbiting at heights of around 2,000 km (1,243 miles) above the Earth. That' s why the European Space Agency (ESA) is hosting an international workshop geared towards cleaning up low-Earth orbit, with a focus on how to make the space industry more sustainable.  Read More

Cluster quartet (Image: ESA)

Space maneuvers have often been described as an orbital ballet, but the European Space Agency's (ESA) Cluster II satellites are currently in a ballet where the dancers are moving blindfolded at hypersonic speeds as they pass within a cosmic hairsbreadth of one another. That's because two of the Cluster satellites are flying within "touching distance" of one another as scientists try to learn more about the effects of solar wind on the Earth's magnetic field.  Read More

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