Category Archives: ESA

Goodbye Venus Express

Artists concept of Venus Express aerobraking. Credit: ESA
Artists concept of Venus Express aerobraking. Credit: ESA

Word comes from ESA the Venus Express mission has come to an end:

ESA’s Venus Express has ended its eight-year mission after far exceeding its planned life. The spacecraft exhausted its propellant during a series of thruster burns to raise its orbit following the low-altitude aerobraking earlier this year.

Since its arrival at Venus in 2006, Venus Express had been on an elliptical 24‑hour orbit, traveling 66 000 km above the south pole at its furthest point and to within 200 km over the north pole on its closest approach, conducting a detailed study of the planet and its atmosphere.

However, after eight years in orbit and with propellant for its propulsion system running low, Venus Express was tasked in mid-2014 with a daring aerobraking campaign, during which it dipped progressively lower into the atmosphere on its closest approaches to the planet.

Read the rest at ESA.

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Sleep Well Little Philae

Decline in battery power aboard Philae. Credit: ESA via Twitter
Decline in battery power aboard Philae. Credit: ESA via Twitter

The Philae lander is now in an “idle mode” in which most of the systems on board are shut down, including communications.

Before going to sleep, Philae was able to send all of the science data collected so far and completed its main mission in the 57 hours on the comet surface.

Stephan Ulamec, Lander Manager said “This machine performed magnificently under tough conditions, and we can be fully proud of the incredible scientific success Philae has delivered.”

Contact with Philae was lost at 00:36 UT (20:36 EST for the US), according to Rosetta Blog this was about the time of a scheduled loss of signal anyway as Rosetta which was acting as a repeater orbited out of sight of Philae.

Rosetta mission control did try to rotate the lander as was reported and with that effort there was a possibility of communications at 10:00 UTC (05:00 EST) this morning (15 Nov) so Rosetta was listening but no signal came.

As Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko gets closer to the Sun there is a possibility enough sunlight will eventually revive the batteries enough to get Philae back on-line. Still I have to wonder if the deep discharge state of the batteries will preclude that given the time and cold environment – time will tell.

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Rosetta Update

A news briefing from 14 November with some of the early details on the Rosetta mission and Philae landing.

The real question is now will Philae ever talk again?  The mission managers were going to attempt to get more of the solar panels into sunlight to charge the now dead battery.  For now Philae is considered to be in hibernation.


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A Stunning Look at Philae

Philae is right at home. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA
Philae is right at home. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

WOW! This is just simply amazing.

This is a two image mosaic of Philae on the surface of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Click the image and just marvel at the view of both Philae and the surface features.

You can get an even larger version at Rosetta blog’s Welcome to a Comet!

Philae is pretty close to a cliff that will shadow the solar panels for much of a day and this will limit how much Philae will be able to do at least in the short term. I’m pretty sure ESA is studying how to squeeze the most out of what they have you can be sure of that.
ESA is live streaming the media briefings, you can find out when by going to Rosetta Blog or you can check the Live Stream page.

Don’t forget about Twitter, I am on the run a lot the past couple days and it has been great for keeping up you can get all the images and briefings there too.

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Good Luck Philae!

GOOD LUCK!  I can hardly believe the day has finally come – it’s been a long time!

Update:  Landing confirmed.  Harpoons did not fire, investigation in progress.  The one way radio travel time is a bit over 28 minutes – each way.

ESA is reporting all is well with Philae is in good shape despite the harpoons.

If you see no video above it is because ESA isn’t broadcasting at the time.

Check out the Rosetta Blog and for last second updates.


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After The Landing

Philae timeline.  Click for a more readable version. Credit: ESA
Philae timeline. Click for a more readable version. Credit: ESA

The big day is almost here. What will happen once Philae lands on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko?

This from ESA:

A timeline of the science operations that Rosetta’s lander Philae will perform during the first 2.5 days on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

It does not include the experiments conducted during the seven-hour descent or immediately upon touchdown and in the 40 minutes after as the separation, descent and landing operations and experiments conclude (see this graphic for a summary of those activities).

Continue reading

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Making History

Just three days away.

This is Friday’s press conference with Rosetta mission experts hosted by Emily Baldwin, ESA space science editor / Rosetta Blog

The video is in distinct segments of about 15 minutes and questions at the end.

Introduction and mission plans fellowed by Science at 15 minutes, Landing at 30 minutes and Summary at 45 followed by questions.

Video link

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Ambition – The Film

About the video from ESA (YouTube)

Ambition is a collaboration between Platige Image and ESA. Directed by Tomek Bagiński and starring Aiden Gillen and Aisling Franciosi, Ambition was shot on location in Iceland, and screened on 24 October 2014 during the British Film Institute’s celebration of Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder, at the Southbank, London.

More information.
Rosetta: the ambition to turn science fiction into science fact:…

Video Source (ESA)

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