A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘european space agency

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Bad Astronomer notes the latest news on interstellar comet 2/Borisov.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly emphasizes how every writer does need an editor.
  • Centauri Dreams notes how the gas giant GJ 3512 b, half the mass of Jupiter orbiting a red dwarf star closely, is an oddly massive exoplanet.
  • Gina Schouten at Crooked Timber looks at inter-generational clashes on parenting styles.
  • D-Brief looks at the methods of agriculture that could conceivably sustain a populous human colony on Mars.
  • Bruce Dorminey argues that we on Earth need something like Starfleet Academy, to help us advance into space.
  • Colby King at the Everyday Sociology Blog looks at how the socio-spatial perspective helps us understand the development of cities.
  • Russell Arben Fox at In Media Res listens to the Paul McCartney album Flaming Pie.
  • io9 looks at Proxima, a contemporary spaceflight film starring Eva Green.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at how the intense relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia began in, and reflected, the era of Jim Crow.
  • Language Hat notes a report suggesting that multilingualism helps ward off dementia.
  • Language Log takes issue with the names of the mascots of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the emergence of a ninth woman complaining about being harassed by Al Franken.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a new paper arguing that the Washington Consensus worked.
  • The NYR Daily shares an Aubrey Nolan cartoon illustrating the evacuation of war children in the United Kingdom during the Second World War.
  • At Out of Ambit, Diane Duane shares a nice collection of links for digital mapmakers.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at how the European Space Agency supports the cause of planetary defense.
  • Roads and Kingdoms interviews Kenyan writer Kevin Mwachiro at length.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel reports on how a mysterious fast radio burst helped illuminate an equally mysterious galactic halo.
  • Strange Company reports on the mysterious and unsolved death in 1936 of Canadian student Thomas Moss in an Oxfordshire hayrick.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps notes how Mount Etna is a surpassingly rare decipoint.
  • Understanding Society considers the thought of Kojève, after Hegel, on freedom.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the falling numbers of Russians, and of state support for Russian language and culture, in independent Central Asia.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at how individual consumer responses are much less effective than concerted collective action in triggering change.
  • Arnold Zwicky reports on some transgender fashion models.

[LINK] “Massive Ariane 5 To Launch Giant NextGen Telescope In Dynamic Deployment To L2”

Universe Today’s Evan Gough describes how the Ariane 5, the European Space Agency’s workhorse, will be tested in launching the James Webb Space Telescope to the L2 point.

The Ariane 5 rocket is a workhorse for delivering satellites and other payloads into orbit, but fitting the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) inside one is pushing the boundaries of the Ariane 5’s capabilities, and advancing our design of space observatories at the same time.

The Ariane 5 is the most modern design in the ESA’s Ariane rocket series. It’s responsible for delivering things like Rosetta, the Herschel Space Observatory, and the Planck Observatory into space. The ESA is supplying an Ariane 5 to the JWST mission, and with the planned launch date for that mission less than three years away, it’s a good time to check in with the Ariane 5 and the JWST.

The Ariane 5 has a long track record of success, often carrying multiple satellites into orbit in a single launch.

[. . .]

But launching satellites into orbit, though still an amazing achievement, is becoming old hat for rockets. 70 successful launches in a row tells us that. The Ariane 5 can even launch multiple satellites in one mission. But launching the James Webb will be Ariane’s biggest challenge.

The thing about satellites is, they’re actually getting smaller, in many cases. But the JWST is huge, at least in terms of dimensions. The mass of the JWST—6,500 kg (14,300 lb)—is just within the limits of the Ariane 5. The real trick was designing and building the JWST so that it could fit into the cylindrical space atop an Ariane 5, and then “unfold” into its final shape after separation from the rocket.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 3, 2016 at 5:09 pm

[LINK] “ESA, Airbus Formalize Jupiter Icy Moons Contract”

The Dragon’s Tales linked to Space News’ report showing that the ESA is set to join NASA in the ranks of deep-space explorers.

The European Space Agency on Dec. 9 signed a contract with Airbus Defence and Space for the construction of ESA’s Juice – Jupiter Icy Moons – orbiter, scheduled for launch in 2022 aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket.

The contract had been expected since ESA’s July decision to approve a contract valued at 350.8 million euros ($374 million) with Airbus after a competition with Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy and OHB SE of Germany, which had submitted a joint bid.

Francois Auque, head of Airbus Space Systems, said Juice hardware will be produced as early as mid-2016, with the full contracting team from 60 companies lined up by 2017. Some 150 people will be working on the prime contractor’s project team at the program’s peak in 2017-2018, he said.

Juice will spend 7.5 years after launch making its way to the Jupiter system, where it will investigate the Europa, Ganymede and Callisto moons. Its mission is expected to last 3.5 years.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm

[LINK] “Rosetta Wakes Up, Phones Home, Starts Tweeting”

The European Space Agency‘s Rosetta probe, set to explore Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has woken up from its hibernation. Universe Today’s Nancy Atkinson reports.

The silence from the live video feed from the ESA’s space operations center in Darmstadt, Germany was almost deafening. Scientists and engineers were waiting to receive a signal from the Rosetta spacecraft, which was supposed to come out of hibernation today to begin its mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in earnest. Finally, after waiting nearly 45 minutes into the window of time when the spacecraft was supposed to send a signal, a little blip appeared on the screens of the spectrum analyzers and the room erupted in cheers.

“After waiting over two and a half years, what is three-quarters of an hour!” said Fred Jansen, ESA’s Rosetta mission manager. “The spacecraft is there, it’s awake and the science team knows there are two busy years ahead of them. Now we have to work hard. Thanks to the team that achieved this.”

“I think I can speak on behalf of everyone here and everyone on Twitter: that was rather stressful!” said Matt Taylor, Rosetta project scientist. “The work begins now and I think we’ll have a fun-filled two years ahead, so let’s get on it!”

[. . .]

Rosetta was placed into hibernation in June 2011, with only the computer and several heaters remaining active as the spacecraft cruised out to nearly 800 million km from the warmth of the Sun, beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

Today, as Rosetta’s orbit came back to within 673 million km from the Sun, there was enough solar energy to power the spacecraft fully again and Rosetta’s pre-programmed internal ‘alarm clock’ woke up the spacecraft after a record 957 days of hibernation. After warming up its key navigation instruments, coming out of a stabilizing spin, and aiming its main radio antenna at Earth, Rosetta sent a signal to let mission operators know it had survived the most distant part of its journey.

The probe’s Twitter account is @ESA_Rosetta.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 21, 2014 at 1:14 am

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • At Beyond the Beyond, Bruce Sterling points towards the first step of the exact role that the famed underground tunnels of Gaza have on the political economy of that territory.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Holbo argues that the legacies of coded racism used by many Republicans in the United States continues to make the party not credible among non-whites.
  • At The Dragon’s Tales, Will Baird points to a new study arguing that stars richer in heavy elements than our own (elements like uranium) are likely to have planets that have more heavy elements than our Earth, meaning more geologically active planets on account of the additional energy.
  • Eastern Approaches notes the ongoing deterioration of Serbian-Croatian relations.
  • At False Steps, Paul Drye profiles the nearly successful Hermes spaceplane planned by the European Space Agency for the 1990s, undermined by technical challenges and the costs of German reunification.
  • Far Outliers quotes J.H. Elliott on the Catalonial rebellion of 1640, coinciding at the time with rebellion against Spanish rule in Portugal.
  • At Normblog, Norman Geras links to a tribunal set up by Iranian exiles to gather evidence about crimes committed by the Islamic Republic.
  • Registan’s Casey Michel wonders if claims that Kazakhstan in 1992 turned down a proposal by Libya’s Gaddafi to keep its nuclear weapons are being publicized to distract from Kazakhstan’s authoritarian government.
  • Steve Munro gives a positive review of a TTC-themed play.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Pat Robertson’s statement that young-earth creationism is not biblical. Robertson knows, I suspect, that linking any belief system to something incredible undermines the belief system.

[LINK] “Russia and Europe joint Mars bid agreement approved”

The European Space Agency seems to be rapidly expanding its capacities. Not only has it built a global tracking network comparable to NASA’s, but the collaboration with Roscosmos that has led to last year’s agreement to launch an ESA probe to Jupiter on a Russia rocket has extended to plans to enlist Roscosmos to replace NASA in the ESA’s ExoMars probe. The BBC’s Jonathan Amos reports.

European Space Agency member states have approved the agreement that would see Russia take significant roles in Red Planet missions in 2016 and 2018.

The former is a satellite that will look for methane and other trace gases in the atmosphere; the latter will be a surface rover.

Russian participation fills a void left by the Americans who pulled back from the projects earlier this year.

For a while, it looked as though the ventures, known as ExoMars, might have to be cancelled. But Russian desire to pick up many of the elements dropped by the US means ExoMars is now on a much surer footing.

Esa member states indicated their happiness with the cooperation text on Monday. All that remains is for the documentation to be signed by both parties.

[. . .]

The planned agreement calls for Russia to provide the Proton rockets to send the two ExoMars missions on their way.

Russia would also get instrument space on the 2016 satellite and the 2018 rover. In addition, its researchers would join the science teams that exploit the missions’ data.

One key contribution would be the landing system that places the rover on the surface of the Red Planet. With the exception of some key components, this would be built by Russian industry.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm

[LINK] “Huge New ESA Tracking Station is Ready for Duty”

Jenny Winder’s Universe Today article describing the construction of a European Space Agency global spacecraft tracking station network akin to NASA’s is another data point illustrating the ESA’s maturation. The
planned launch of an unmanned mission to Jupiter in a decade’s time–the first outer-system mission led by the ESA, if I remember correctly–is another recent benchmark.

To keep in contact with an ever growing armada of spacecraft ESA has developed a tracking station network called ESTRACK. This is a worldwide system of ground stations providing links between satellites in orbit and ESA’s Operations Control Centre (ESOC) located in Darmstadt, Germany. The core ESTRACK network comprises 10 stations in seven countries. Major construction has now been completed on the final piece of this cosmic jigsaw, one of the world’s most sophisticated satellite tracking stations at Malargüe, Argentina, 1000 km west of Buenos Aires.

ESA’s Core Network comprises 10 ESTRACK stations: Kourou (French Guiana), Maspalomas, Villafranca (Spain), Redu (Belgium), Santa Maria (Portugal), Kiruna (Sweden), Perth (Australia) which host 5.5-, 13-, 13.5- or 15-metre antennas. The new tracking station (DSA3) at Malargüe in Argentina, joins two other 35-metre deep-space antennas at New Norcia (DSA1) in Australia (completed in 2002) and Cebreros (DSA2) in Spain, (completed in 2005) to form the European Deep Space Network.

The essential task of ESTRACK stations is to communicate with missions, up-linking commands and down-linking scientific data and spacecraft status information. The tracking stations also gather radiometric data to tell mission controllers the location, trajectory and velocity of their spacecraft, to search for and acquire newly launched spacecraft, in addition to auto-tracking, frequency and timing control using atomic clocks and gathering atmospheric and weather data.

Deep-space missions can be over 2 million kilometres away from the Earth. Communicating at such distances requires highly accurate mechanical pointing and calibration systems. The 35m stations provide the improved range, radio technology and data rates required to send commands, receive data and perform radiometric measurements for current and next-generation exploratory missions such as Mars Express, Venus Express, Rosetta, Herschel, Planck, Gaia, BepiColombo, ExoMars, Solar Orbiter and Juice.

DSA3 is located at 1500m altitude in the clear Argentinian desert air, this and ultra-low-temperature amplifiers installed at the station, have meant that performance has exceeded expectations. The first test signals were received in June 2012 from Mars Express, over a distance of about 193 million km, proving that the station’s technology is ready for duty.

[. . .]

The tracking capability of all three ESA deep space stations also work in cooperation with partner agencies such as NASA and Japan’s JAXA, helping to boost science data return for all. The three Deep Space Antenna can be linked to the 7 stations comprising the Core Network as well as five other stations making up the larger Augmented Network and eleven additional stations that make up a global Cooperative Network with other space agencies from around the world.

Now that major construction is complete, teams are preparing DSA 3 for hand-over to operations, formal inauguration late this year and entry in routine service early in 2013.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 12, 2012 at 8:53 pm

[LINK] “JUICE: Europe’s next mission to Jupiter?”

The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla noted earlier that JUICE, the proposed European Space Agency unmanned mission to Jupiter and its icy moons that I blogged about last December, has been officially selected and will likely be adopted. This is certainly of note, not only because JUICE is a major expedition that’s the European Space Agency’s attempt to salvage its part of a joint NASA-ESA mission canceled by the American agency, but because this is the first ESA mission into the outer solar system, to this point an exclusive preserve of NASA.

The Twitterverse is buzzing this morning with news that the Science Programme Committee of the European Space Agency has recommended that the next large European mission be JUICE, a mission to explore the three icy Galilean satellites and eventually to orbit Ganymede. The recommendation is not binding; it must be voted upon (a simple majority vote, according to BBC News), at a meeting of the Science Programme Committee, consisting of representatives of all 19 ESA member states, on May 2. The committee is likely to green-light this recommendation, but it shouldn’t be taken as a certain decision just yet.

JUICE is being recommended over ATHENA (an x-ray observatory) and NGO (a gravitational wave observatory). It would launch in June 2022, enter Jupiter orbit in January 2030, and end in Ganymede orbit in June 2033. It is a concept that has been modified from JGO, the Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter, originally conceived as Europe’s half of a US-Europe two-spacecraft mission to Jupiter, where NASA had originally proposed to provide a Jupiter Europa Orbiter. NASA canceled its plans to participate in that mission just as it canceled its participation in ExoMars more recently, and as with ExoMars, ESA appears ready to go forward without the USA. In fact, ESA has modified the originally proposed JGO mission to incorporate some of the science goals that would have been accomplished by NASA’s Europa mission.

Here’s the mission description and profile from the ESA document:

Science goals

The JUICE mission will visit the Jupiter system concentrating on the characterization of Ganymede, Europa and Callisto as planetary objects and potential habitats and on the exploration of the Jupiter system considered as an archetype for gas giants in the solar system and elsewhere. The focus of JUICE is to characterize the conditions that may have led to the emergence of habitable environments among the Jovian icy satellites, with special emphasis on the three ocean-bearing worlds, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto. The mission will also focus on characterizing the diversity of processes in the Jupiter system which may be required in order to provide a stable environment at Ganymede, Europa and Callisto on geologic time scales, including gravitational coupling between the Galilean satellites and their long term tidal influence on the system as a whole.

Mission profile

The mission will be launched in June 2022 by an Ariane 5 ECA and will perform a 7.5 yr cruise toward Jupiter based on an Earth-Venus-Earth-Earth gravitational assist. The Jupiter orbit insertion will be performed in January 2030, and will be followed by a tour of the Jupiter system, comprising a transfer to Callisto (11 months), a phase studying Europa (with 2 flybys) and Callisto (with 3 flybys) lasting one month, a “Jupiter high-latitude phase” that includes 9 Callisto flybys (lasting 9 months) and the transfer to Ganymede (lasting 11 months). In September 2032 the spacecraft is inserted into orbit around Ganymede, starting with elliptical and high altitude circular orbits (for 5 months) followed by a phase in a medium altitude (500 km) circular orbit (3 months) and by a final phase in low altitude (200 km) circular orbit (1 month). The end of the nominal mission is foreseen in June 2033.

[. . .]

This selection — if it is accepted — represents a big win for planetary science and a big loss for space-based astrophysics in Europe. Which is, one can’t help but notice, opposite to what the currently-proposed NASA budget represents.

I’m pretty ignorant of the internal and external politics involved in these decisions, and also of the relative merits of JUICE, ATHENA, and NGO, so while I admit I’m happy the planetary mission got selected, I don’t feel qualified to comment on whether it should have or shouldn’t have been the one that ESA picked. But, as a member of the American public, I can’t help but see this decision as Europe stepping in to the sucking vacuum left by NASA in the exploration of the outer planets. NASA’s inability to follow up on decades of spectacular successes in outer solar system exploration with any mission beyond Cassini’s end in 2017 leaves an opportunity for Europe to take over the leadership of Earth’s exploration of the solar system beyond the asteroid belt. It remains a challenge that Europe doesn’t currently have the capability to produce radioisotope power sources for spacecraft; limited to solar power at present, that means Europe can’t get beyond Jupiter. But Jupiter is far enough, for now.

The outer planets science community is a small and international one, so for sure there will be American participation in the science team, and probably also in the payload; the ESA document says specifically that “NASA has expressed an interest in contributing to the payload.” Science instruments on ESA missions work differently from NASA. They aren’t paid for by ESA; ESA builds and pays for the spacecraft, but different member states propose, build, and operate the science instruments using their own funds. ESA estimates that the spacecraft will cost €830 million and that ESA member states will spend an estimated €241 million to build instruments. NASA may contribute up to €68 million toward the payload. I hope it contributes the full amount; it’d be hard to imagine a way to get more bang for one’s bucks than to pay for a couple of instruments and 10 or 20 scientists to work on a mission being built, developed, launched, and operated by someone else.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 1, 2012 at 3:02 am