Articles about european space agency

Inside LISA Pathfinder

LISA Pathfinder sniffed out gravitational signals down to micro-Hertz

In other space news today, the boffins in charge of the European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder mission have wrapped up the final results for the space-based gravitational wave dry run. The Pathfinder carries a pair of 2 kg free-falling cubes, separated by 38 cm and linked with lasers.The masses move relative to each other in …

ESA trying to 'bake, rattle and roll' gravity wave space probe

The European Space Agency is giving the LISA Pathfinder probe what it calls the “Bake, rattle and roll” treatment in the hope it teaches us how to make its successors even better. As the name suggests, LISA Pathfinder is a test mission for the planned three-vessel LISA space observatory, which will be positioned in a …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jul 2017
The rebranded MPCV (aka Orion) participating in a Mars mission. Credit: NASA

Software woes keep NASA's new crewed missions grounded

The United States Government Accountability Office has found that NASA's return to crewed space exploration will likely not commence in 2018, as planned, and will probably slip into 2019. And familiar technology integration challenges are partly to blame. The Office on Thursday published a Report to Congressional Committees ( …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Apr 2017
Oxia Planum, one of two possible landing sites for the ExoMars 2020 mission

ESA picks final two ExoMars landing site candidates

The European Space Agency has narrowed its candidate list of landing sites for the ExoMars rover to two choices. ExoMars should fly in the year 2020 and will carry a rover and a stationary observer to the Red Planet. The big question is where to land both. The ESA prefers locations that offer opportunities to explore hitherto …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Mar 2017
The Italian town of Brindisi and surrounds shot by ESA Sentinel B

A big day for the ESA: Sentinel snaps and ExoMars brakes

If you're trying to sell something to the European Space Agency, today could be the day to move in and close the deal because there should be smiles all round after two missions achieved important milestones. The most visible achievement is depicted above (here for mobile readers): the Italian port city of Brindisi, as …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Mar 2017
Vega configurations

Experimental satellite-slinger seeks cargo: What could go wrong?

If you've got an application for a small satellite and a stomach for risk, the European Space Agency wants to hear from you. Next year, it's planning a multi-launch demonstration from its Vega spacecraft on a proof-of-concept flight for the Small Satellites Mission Service. The test launch of the Small Satellites Mission …
ESA's Phobos 3D image

European Space Agency slaps CC licences on its pics and vids

The European Space Agency has flung the data doors open: from today, it's adopted an open access policy for its trove of images and videos. As the agency explains, its adoption the Creative Commons Attribution – ShareAlike 3.0 Intergovernmental Organisation (it even abbreviates to a mouthful: CC BY SA IGO 3.0) licence as its …

Euro space agency's Galileo satellites stricken by mystery clock failures

Europe's GPS-alike system Galileo is suffering a number of unexplained clock failures on its satellites, the European Space Agency has admitted. Each of the 18 Galileo satellites currently in orbit carries four maser*-based atomic clocks. Two clocks are hydrogen-based, while the other pair use rubidium. The ESA says the clocks …
Gareth Corfield, 18 Jan 2017

Europe trials air-traffic-control-over-IP-and-satellite

The European Space Agency has successfully trialled its air-traffic-control-over-IP-and-satellite plan that it is hoped will one day reduce the amount of spoken instructions delivered to aircraft. Known as IRIS, the project proposes real-time “4D” tracking aircraft that will record latitude, longitude, altitude and time. Such …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2016

ESA to try tank-to-tank fuel switch on sat that wasn't designed to do it

The European Space Agency is planning what it thinks is a world-first transfer of fuel between tanks on an orbiting satellite that wasn't designed to do the job. The agency's venerable XMM-Newton X-ray 'scope has been orbiting Earth since 1999, thanks in part to daily engine burns that keep its orbit stable. While the 'scope …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Dec 2016

Whiffy kitchen after last night's chips? Clear the air with SPACE PLASMA

Fifteen years of plasma experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) could let people enjoy the lusciously unhealthy taste of deep-fried potato chips, without having to smell them first. [What's wrong with you? Why would you want to eat chips without the thrill of anticipation first?] The work being done by German …

ESA: Sorry about Schiaparelli, can we have another €400 mill?

Later this week in Lucerne, Switzerland, the European Space Agency (ESA) will ask its 23 member states' ministers for a €400 million top-up to its ExoMars program. In an audio conference on Friday, director of human spaceflight and robotic exploration David Parker said the cash injection “includes all the technical work needed …
 Schiaparelli separating from Trace Gas Orbiter. Pic: ESA–D. Ducros

'Data saturation' helped to crash the Schiaparelli Mars probe

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released results of its early investigations into the crash of the Schiaparelli Mars probe and it sounds like software may have been a part of the problem. "A large volume of data recovered from the Mars lander shows that the atmospheric entry and associated braking occurred exactly as …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Nov 2016
 Schiaparelli separating from Trace Gas Orbiter. Pic: ESA–D. Ducros

Crashed Schiaparelli lander's 'chute and shields spotted

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has sent home fresh snaps of debris from the European Space Agency's (ESA's) failed Schiaparelli lander, offering a few more hints about what went wrong. The image below shows the failed lander's front heatshield, parachute and rear heathshield. The ESA says it's confident the image …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Oct 2016
ESA Rosetta history

Rosetta probe's final death dive planned for just after last call next Friday night

The European Space Agency (ESA) has held an hour-long hangout to explain what's likely to happen when its Rosetta spacecraft touches down on Comet 67p. On Sunday, after a final manoeuvre, the spacecraft will start a 14-hour descent. Operations manager Sylvain Lodiot says the agency expects Rosetta to land somewhere inside a …

Boffins tentatively fire up grav wave sniffer

European Space Agency (ESA) scientists have begun to fire up systems aboard the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft - designed to "test the technology needed to develop future space-borne gravitational wave detectors". The LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) Pathfinder is now on its way to its final destination orbiting Lagrange …
Lester Haines, 13 Jan 2016
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Philae's phinal phlop: Lonely lander didn't answer wakeup signal

Sunday's attempt to make contact with the Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has not succeeded. As we reported yesterday, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) yesterday on Sunday sent a command to Philae, suggesting it spin up its flywheel. That command was hoped to either lead to the lander shifting so its solar …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2016

Hacktivist pranksters stick it to the European Space Agency

Elements of Anonymous have taken time off from fighting adherents of Daesh (the so-called Islamic State) and trolling Donald Trump to attack the European Space Agency. Hacktivists dumped a schema of the ESA website (, along with data about registered users, collaborators, and subscribers, after hacking into the space …
John Leyden, 15 Dec 2015

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