Category Archives: ESA

Farewell, Philae: Hunt for Rosetta’s Lost Lander Ends

The European Space Agency is giving up on trying to contact the lost Philae comet lander, which had an unexpectedly rough touchdown after its release 16 months ago from the orbiting Rosetta mothership.

Rather than harpooning itself onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Philae bounced several times before coming to a rest against a cliff wall. Continue reading Farewell, Philae: Hunt for Rosetta’s Lost Lander Ends

ILS Proton Successfully Launches Eutelsat 9B Telecom/Data-Relay Satellite

An International Launch Services (ILS) Russian Proton rocket on Jan. 30 successfully placed the Eutelsat 9B commercial telecommunications satellite into orbit, with Proton’s Breeze-M upper stage separating the satellite nine hours and 12 minutes after liftoff from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan.

Paris-based Eutelsat said the satellite was healthy in orbit and sending signals, and that the solar panels had deployed as planned. Continue reading ILS Proton Successfully Launches Eutelsat 9B Telecom/Data-Relay Satellite

‘The Force’ Awakens in Star’s ‘Lightsaber’ Jets

No, this isn’t an image of Darth Maul with his double-bladed lightsaber making a comeback in “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens”, this is a stunning new observation by the Hubble Space Telescope of an extremely energetic young star blasting jets of plasma though clouds of gas and dust in the nebula where it was born. Continue reading ‘The Force’ Awakens in Star’s ‘Lightsaber’ Jets

Big Iron gets technology boost

ESA deploys ‘big iron’ to communicate with its deep-space missions: three 35 m-diameter dishes employing some of the world’s most advanced tracking technology. And it’s about to get a boost.

ESA’s three Deep Space Antenna stations at New Norcia, Australia, Cebreros, Spain and Malargüe, Argentina, beam commands and receive data from spacecraft voyaging hundreds of millions of kilometres into our Solar System.

The trio form part of ESA’s Estrack tracking network a global system of stations providing links between satellites in orbit and the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. The core network comprises 10 stations in seven countries.

The huge dishes – whose moveable structures weigh in at 620 tonnes – can be rotated, elevated and aimed with pinpoint accuracy despite high winds and heat, and transmit radio signals with up to 20 kW of power – enough to make, roughly, 10 000 pots of kitchen coffee.

The stations’ stellar performance, however, isn’t just about big moving, mechanical things: they make use of advanced, made-in-Europe electronics, including cryogenically cooled low-noise amplifiers and exquisitely machined mirrors made of metal.

Continue reading Big Iron gets technology boost