Photokina 2014 highlights

ESA

Artist's concept of eLISA passing through gravitational waves (Image: AEI/MM/exozet)

Mark your calendars for 2034, because that is when science is set to get a whole new spectrum to play with when the European Space Agency (ESA) launches its eLISA mission. Consisting of a constellation of three spacecraft flying in precise formation, eLISA will study gravitational waves in a manner that may one day revolutionize our understanding of the Universe.  Read More

The Swarm satellites being prepared for launch (Photo: ESA)

On Friday, ESA began a four-year mission to study the Earth’s magnetic field with the launch of the three-satellite Swarm constellation into Earth orbit. Packed “like sardines” in their fairing, the unmanned spacecraft lifted off at 12:02 GMT (1:02 PM CET) from the Plesetsk space port in northern Russia atop a Rockot launcher.  Read More

GOCE entered the Earth's atmosphere after its orbit naturally decayed (Image: ESA)

This morning, at about 1:00 am CET, ESA’s Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite reentered the atmosphere and burned up somewhere along its orbital path extending from Siberia, across the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean, and to Antarctica. According to the space agency, it disintegrated in the upper atmosphere and though some debris may have reached the surface, no damage was reported.  Read More

The prototype Mars sample return container (Image: ESA)

A mission to return samples from the planet Mars is still many years away and, officially, not on the calendar. That hasn't stopped ESA from producing a proof-of-concept prototype of the scientific “box of delights,” which could one day bring bits of the Red Planet back to Earth for study.  Read More

Concept rendering of a future lunar rover robot

Robots have become a mainstay of space exploration. From rovers to chatty anime robots on the International Space Station, they have already proven their worth in many ways. But what will the space robots of the future look like? The European Space Agency has released a video showing advanced robotics designs for lunar and planetary exploration. The concepts include multifunction robots designed for both autonomous space exploration and to aid astronauts in working on other worlds.  Read More

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way (Photo: ESA/ATG medialab; background image: ESO/S....

The Gaia mission to map a billion stars in the Milky Way has been delayed for about two months by the European Space Agency. Problems in X-band transponders used in other satellites have begun to appear, and the ESA has decided to replace those modules prior to launching. The likely blastoff date will be in late December of this year.  Read More

Artist's impression of Planck at L2 (Image: ESA)

On Wednesday, at 12:10:27 GMT, ESA’s Planck space telescope ended its four and a half year mission when project scientist Jan Taube sent the command telling the unmanned probe to switch itself off.  Read More

Sunny side of GOCE, which has been dubbed the 'Ferrari of space'  (Image: ESA–AOES-Mediala...

ESA announced on Monday that its Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) has ended its extended mission to map the Earth’s gravitational field. Orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 224 km (139 mi), the unmanned probe, known as the “Ferrari of space” because of its streamlined shape, has run out of fuel for the ion engine that kept it in orbit and is expected to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere within two weeks.  Read More

Bridget spent six 'Martian' days in the desert (Image: ESA)

ESA’s Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover (SAFER) has completed six “Martian days” of tests roaming Chile’s Atacama Desert. Nicknamed "Bridget," the prototype of the space agency’s ExoMars rover is part of a program to gain experience in building and operating planetary rovers in anticipation of the 2018 ESA Mars mission.  Read More

The AMAZE logo printed in metal using an additive manufacturing 3D printing technique that...

3D printers have already migrated from factories to the home and are now set to journey into space, where the cost of delivering replacement tools, components and structures can cost in the millions. The AMAZE (Additive Manufacturing Aiming Towards Zero Waste & Efficient Production of High-Tech Metal Products) from the ESA and the European Commission aims to deliver the first 3D metal printer to the International Space Station (ISS) to allow astronauts to print custom objects on demand.  Read More

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