Category Archives: ESA

ExoMars 2016

The ExoMars 2016 mated to the Proton rocket is shown here with some of the many people at the Baikonur Space Centre getting the launch ready.

exomarsproton

The fairing (behind the ExoMars logo) contain Schiaparelli. Schiaparelli is the name of the entry, descent and landing demonstrator module. Along with Schiaparelli is the Trace Gas Orbiter.

This image was taken on 05 March and in just a few days from now the Proton rocket will launch the ExoMars into orbit.

Image: ESA

Sentinel-3A

Sentinel-3A

ESA is getting ready to begin its mission to map Earth’s oceans and land surfaces with the Sentinel-3A satellite.

We see the satellite being put inside a rocket fairing on 08 February at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia in preparation for launch. Image: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2016.

The Sentinel-3 mission is set to play a key role in the world’s largest environmental monitoring programme – Copernicus.

 

Inside a Rocket’s Belly

rocketbody
Looking at the business end of a rocket engine.

Image: ESA/NASA
ESA’s Description:
An unusual view of a spacecraft – looking from below, directly into the thruster nozzles. This is a test version of ESA’s service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will send astronauts further into space than ever before.

The European Service Module provides electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen, and thermal control as well as propelling the spacecraft.

The large cone is the spacecraft’s main engine, the same model that was used on the Space Shuttle for orbital manoeuvres. The surrounding red cones are auxiliary thrusters. The engines will provide almost 30 kN of thrust, only one-tenth that of a Jumbo Jet engine, but enough to manoeuvre in space. More thrusters are carried on the module’s sides.

This structural test model is used for testing purposes before installing the real thing. It is as close to the flight version as possible while keeping costs and development time manageable. The structure and weight are the same, while mass equivalents stand in for electronics boxes not needed for the series of tests.

The model was installed under a test version of the Crew Module Adapter, and sits on the Spacecraft Adapter that will attach Orion to its launch vehicle. This is the first time the European hardware has been physically connected to NASA’s elements.

The service module will be shaken at NASA’s Plum Brook station in Sandusky, OH.

Merging Galaxies

NGC3597

One day our Milky Way will be in the midst of a similar merger, ours with Andromeda.

The ESA description:
The subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is known as NGC 3597. It is the product of a collision between two good-sized galaxies, and is slowly evolving to become a giant elliptical galaxy. This type of galaxy has grown more and more common as the Universe has evolved, with initially small galaxies merging and progressively building up into larger galactic structures over time.

NGC 3597 is located approximately 150 million light-years away in the constellation of Crater (The Cup). Astronomers study NGC 3597 to learn more about how elliptical galaxies form — many ellipticals began their lives far earlier in the history of the Universe. Older ellipticals are nicknamed “red and dead” by astronomers because these bloated galaxies are not anymore producing new, bluer, stars in ages, and are thus packed full of old and redder stellar populations.

Before infirmity sets in, some freshly formed elliptical galaxies experience a final flush of youth, as is the case with NGC 3597. Galaxies smashing together pool their available gas and dust, triggering new rounds of star birth. Some of this material ends up in dense pockets initially called proto-globular clusters, dozens of which festoon NGC 3597. These pockets will go on to collapse and form fully-fledged globular clusters, large spheres that orbit the centres of galaxies like satellites, packed tightly full of millions of stars.

Image and caption: ESA/Hubble & NASA

ExoMars

Interviews with Giancinto Gianfiglio, ESA ExoMars deputy Project Manager and Jorge Vago, ExoMars Project Scientist.

ESA is going to land on Mars this year!

Video

ExoMars 2016 At Launch Site

ExoMars2016

Exciting news from ESA!

On 14 March, the launch window opens for ExoMars 2016, ESA’s next mission to Mars, composed of the Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli.

Last month, the two spacecraft left Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, where they had been for the final few months of assembly and testing, and headed towards the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

With both now in Baikonur, preparations are under way for the launch on a Russian Proton rocket during a window that remains open until 25 March.

The 600 kg Schiaparelli – pictured here being unpacked in a cleanroom in the cosmodrome – will ride to Mars on the Trace Gas Orbiter. Three days before they reach the Red Planet, Schiaparelli will separate from the orbiter, which will then enter orbit for a five-year mission of studying atmospheric gases potentially linked to present-day biological or geological activity.

Schiaparelli will enter the atmosphere at 21 000 km/h and slow by aerobraking in the upper layers, then deploying a parachute, followed by liquid-propellant thrusters that will brake it to less than 5 km/h about 2 m above the surface.

At that moment, the thrusters will be switched off and it will drop to the ground, where the impact will be cushioned by its crushable structure.

Less than eight minutes will have elapsed between hitting the atmosphere and touching down in a region known as Meridiani Planum.

Scientific sensors on Schiaparelli will collect data on the atmosphere during entry and descent, and others will makelocal measurements  at the landing site for a short period determined by its battery capacity.

Schiaparelli will remain a target for laser ranging from orbiters using its reflector.

The module is named in honour of the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who mapped the Red Planet’s surface features in the 19th century.

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