Space News & Blog Articles

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Madrid meteor's cometary origins unearthed

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Tracking marine plastic drift from space

Every 60 seconds the equivalent of a lorry-load of plastic enters the global ocean. Where does it end up? Right now, researchers simply don’t know. But in a bid to help find out, an ESA-led project developed floating transmitters whose passage can be tracked over time, helping in turn to guide a sophisticated software model of marine plastic litter accumulation.

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100 days of Minerva

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was launched to the International Space Station on 27 April as a part of Crew-4 for her second mission, Minerva. One hundred days in, mission Minerva is still going strong. From completing cutting-edge research in the world’s only orbiting laboratory to sharing daily life on the Space Station via TikTok, it’s all in a day’s work for an ESA astronaut.

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Week in images: 01-05 August 2022

Week in images: 01-05 August 2022

Discover our week through the lens

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Pure gold pin for space testing

Image: Pure gold pin for space testing

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Artemis I spacecraft ready for launch

Video: 00:03:00

ESA and NASA’s Artemis I spacecraft is cleared for launch after a series of final tests at the US Kennedy Space Center in Florida. ESA’s European Service Module (ESM) will provide electrical power and propel the uncrewed Orion capsule in an extended orbit around the Moon, setting the scene for future crewed missions. ESA has already delivered its second ESM for Artemis II and is currently building its third ESM. Eventually, Artemis III will return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in 50 years with the ESM supplying their life support in the form of water, food and oxygen. 

ESA is also making a major contribution to the Gateway including refueling and habitation modules and enhanced lunar communications. The Gateway will act as a permanently crewed space station in orbit around the Moon, a thousand times further away than the International Space Station from Earth, ushering in a new era of lunar exploration. 

The film includes soundbites from ESA’s Director of Exploration, David Parker, and ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen.  

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Mission ends for Copernicus Sentinel-1B satellite

On 23 December 2021, Copernicus Sentinel-1B experienced an anomaly related to the instrument electronics power supply provided by the satellite platform, leaving it unable to deliver radar data. Since then spacecraft operators and engineers have been working tirelessly to rectify the issue. Unfortunately, despite all concerted efforts, ESA and the European Commission announce that it is the end of the mission for Sentinel-1B. Copernicus Sentinel-1A remains fully operational and plans are in force to launch Sentinel-1C as soon as possible.

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Webb captures stellar gymnastics in the Cartwheel Galaxy

The Cartwheel Galaxy, a rare ring galaxy once shrouded in dust and mystery, has been unveiled by the imaging capabilities of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. The galaxy, which formed as a result of a collision between a large spiral galaxy and another smaller galaxy, not only retained a lot of its spiral character, but has also experienced massive changes throughout its structure. Webb’s high-precision instruments resolved individual stars and star-forming regions within the Cartwheel, and revealed the behaviour of the black hole within its galactic centre. These new details provide a renewed understanding of a galaxy in the midst of a slow transformation.

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ESA names first ‘astronaut’ to fly on the Artemis I lunar mission

The specially trained woolly astronaut, Shaun the Sheep, has been assigned a seat on the Artemis I mission to the Moon. Shaun’s assignment was announced by ESA’s Director for Human and Robotic Exploration Dr David Parker.

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Utah’s Great Salt Lake is disappearing

Utah’s Great Salt Lake dropped to its lowest recorded water level last month as a megadrought persists across the US southwest, forcing the fast-growing city to curb its water use. From space, satellite images show how water levels have fallen from 1985 to 2022 – exposing large expanses of lakebed.

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Week in images: 25-29 July 2022

Week in images: 25-29 July 2022

Discover our week through the lens

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Operation centres in tune for upcoming weather satellite

In just a few months’ time Europe’s first Meteosat Third Generation satellite will soar into the skies on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. From geostationary orbit, this new satellite, carrying two new highly sensitive instruments, will take weather forecasting to the next level. Taking a significant step towards launch, the satellite operations teams at two different centres have completed an all-important suite of tests ensuring that their procedures are fully compatible with the satellite.

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Readying spacecraft to surf Venus’ atmosphere

ESA’s EnVision mission to Venus will perform optical, spectral and radar mapping of Earth’s sister planet. But before getting down to work the van-sized spacecraft needs to ‘aerobrake’ – lowering its orbit with thousands of passages through the planet’s hot, thick atmosphere for up to two years. A unique ESA facility is currently testing candidate spacecraft materials to check they can safely withstand this challenging process of atmospheric surfing.

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A spacewalk full of firsts

Image: A spacewalk full of firsts

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EarthCARE taking wing

Image: EarthCARE taking wing

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Tap into Europe in motion

Any movement beneath our feet – from barely perceptible subsidence to the sudden appearance of a sinkhole or a crashing landslide – spells big trouble. Even relatively modest subsidence can weaken buildings and infrastructure and lead to issues such as flooding, and at worst the abrupt disappearance of sections of land brings immediate threat to life. Monitoring and predicting our shifting land is clearly essential for adopting mitigating strategies.

And now, thanks to Europe’s environmental Copernicus programme and the Sentinel-1 radar satellite mission, the first Europe-wide subsidence and soil movement analysis service is available to the public.

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ESA showcases its space ambition at Farnborough airshow

ESA’s efforts to ensure European citizens reap the benefits of space have been highlighted at a global aerospace event held in the UK. 

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Greece battles wildfires on Lesbos island

Image: Hundreds of residents and tourists have been evacuated from the Greek island of Lesbos after a wildfire broke out on the morning of 23 July. This image, captured by Sentinel-2, shows the active fire front which stretches for more than four km.

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Week in images: 18-22 July 2022

Week in images: 18-22 July 2022

Discover our week through the lens

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Innovative data satellite enters commercial service

A large data-driven telecommunications satellite that uses innovative technology to keep cool as well as other innovations – developed under an ESA Partnership Project – has started its commercial service.

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