New ESA Partnership Project to Boost European Competitiveness

Artist’s impression of OneSat telecommunications satellite. (Credit: Airbus)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A fully reconfigurable, software-defined, standardized satellite for the commercial telecommunications market is under development, as an ESA Partnership Project. 

ESA has signed a contract with satellite manufacturer Airbus to develop and qualify OneSat, which will operate in a geostationary orbit.

The contract was negotiated under teleworking and remote meeting conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic. The timely conclusion of the negotiations demonstrates the strong commitment of all parties and the agility of the processes used to manage ESA Partnership Projects.

The Novacom 1 Partnership Project to build OneSat will be jointly managed by ESA and the French Space Agency, CNES.

OneSat is part of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES). Like previous Neosat Partnership Projects, it is expected to generate an exceptional return on investment to European industry and ESA Member States.

Smart Surfaces for Space Hygiene

PARIS (ESA PR) — While efforts continue to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus on Earth, a space-based experiment called Matiss has been investigating how ‘smart surfaces’ on the International Space Station could stop pathogens in their tracks. 

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CNES Directors Give Approval to Trishna, Space Inspire Programs

PARIS LES HALLES, France (CNES PR) — On Thursday, 12 March, CNES’s Board of Directors convened for its 362nd session at the agency’s Head Office in Paris Les Halles, giving the go-ahead to engage France in the development of the French-Indian Trishna programme and to pursue activities for the new Space Inspire series of flexible satellites, as well as development of equipment for the spacecraft bus and shared payload.

Trishna is a mission to deliver thermal-infrared imagery of Earth’s surface at high spatial and temporal resolution. Its observations will help to gain fresh insights into the water cycle and improve management of the planet’s water resources, at a time when the local impacts of climate change are being felt increasingly around the globe.

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Asteroid Ryugu Likely Link in Planetary Formation

Formation scenario for Ryugu. More than one year ago, the Japanese Hayabusa2 orbiter deployed the German lander, MASCOT, which investigated the approximately one-kilometre-diameter asteroid Ryugu. Scientists are now imagining the history of its formation 4.5 billion years ago. First, flakes and grains of dust formed in the disc of dust and gas rotating around the Sun (1), before porous planetesimals agglomerated due to the accretion of these loose flakes (2). Recent investigations suggest that Ryugu’s parent body hardly condensed and was also highly porous. This may have resulted in the formation of a firmer core, but scientists also believe that a gradual increase in density towards the centre of the parent body is conceivable (3). Impacts and collisions with other asteroids (4) led to a fragmentation of the parent body; the large boulders on Ryugu probably originated here. Part of the debris was then the source material for the accretion of Ryugu (5), with porous blocks and loose material, and also some more compact blocks of higher density from the original core, some of which remain on the surface. Ryugu‘s present diamondlike shape (6) occurred over time due to its rotation. (Credit: Okada et al. Nature 2020)
  • Infrared images show that Ryugu is almost entirely made up.
  • The asteroid was formed largely from fragments of a parent body that was shattered by impacts of highly porous material.
  • DLR scientists participate in the publication in the scientific journal Nature.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Solar System formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago. Numerous fragments that bear witness to this early era orbit the Sun as asteroids. Around three-quarters of these are carbon-rich C-type asteroids, such as 162173 Ryugu, which was the target of the Japanese Hayabusa2 mission in 2018 and 2019. The spacecraft is currently on its return flight to Earth.

Numerous scientists, including planetary researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), intensively studied this cosmic ‘rubble pile’, which is almost one kilometre in diameter and can come close to Earth. Infrared images acquired by Hayabusa2 have now been published in the scientific journal Nature. They show that the asteroid consists almost entirely of highly porous material.

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COVID-19: Guiana Space Center Suspends Launch Campaigns

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the need to fully implement the measures decided by the French government, launch campaigns underway at the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana have been suspended.

These launch preparations will resume as soon as allowed by health conditions.

This exceptional measure is designed to protect the health of employees and the local population, while also maintaining the security needed to prepare for scheduled launches.

Arianespace, French space agency CNES and all companies involved at CSG are currently overseeing operations to place launchers and satellites in safe standby condition, in line with standard procedures.

Trump Administration Proposes Deep Cuts to NOAA Budget

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Trump Administration is proposing a 13.57 percent reduction in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021, according to budget documents.

The $4.63 billion proposal would cut NOAA spending by $727.64 million below the FY 2020 budget. Although key satellite and commercial data purchasing programs would received increases, dozens of other programs would see their funding reduced or eliminated completely.

NOAA’s climate change research programs would be reduced by more than half from $169.5 million to $83.2 million. President Donald Trump has called global warming a hoax invented by the Chinese government to destroy the American economy.

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Japan’s Martian Moons Mission Gets Go Ahead

Artist impression of the MMX spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA)

Martian Moons EXploration (MMX) mission to explore moons, return soil sample from Phobos.

TOKYO (JAXA Program Update) — This week (19 February 2020), the MMX mission transitioned to become a JAXA Project: an official step in mission development authorised by the Japanese government. The mission was previously in the Pre-Project phase, where the focus was on research and analysis, such as simulating landings to improve spacecraft design. The focus will now move onto the development of mission hardware and software.

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Kinéis Raises 100 Million Euros, Finances Nanosat Internet of Things Constellation

SAINT-AGNES, France (Kineis PR) — Kinéis has reached its capital-raising target of 100 million euros [$110.6 million]. CLS, CNES, Bpifrance via the fund for Industrial Project Companies (SPI), financed by the ‘Investments for the Future’ Programme and the European Investment Bank, Ifremer, Thales, CELAD, BNP Paribas Développement, HEMERIA and other industrial and financial partners are investing in and supporting Kinéis’ ambition to provide universal satellite connectivity.

25 nanosatellites will be added to complement the service which has been provided by the Argos system to scientific and environmental communities for more than 40 years. Kinéis will also develop its activity in the new markets opened up by the IoT.

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Soyuz Booster to Launch COSMO-Skymed, Cheops, ANGELS, Eyesat and OPS-SAT

Replica of OPS-SAT (Credit: ESA–Stijn Laagland)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Tuesday 17 December, Soyuz will lift off for the 23rd time from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, carrying COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation for the Italian space agency ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defence, CHEOPS for the European Space Agency (ESA), ANGELS and EyeSat for CNES, and OPS-SAT for operator Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

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France Acquires Automatic 3D Geospatial Information Capability with AI4GEO

PARIS, December 10, 2019 (CNES PR) – The AI4GEO project to develop an automatic solution for producing 3D geospatial information, in which €30 million is to be invested over four years, is receiving €13.5 million in funding from the government’s PIA future investment programme led by the Secretariat General for Investment (SGPI) and operated by public investment bank Bpifrance. The signature of the contract marks France’s desire to acquire a 3D geospatial information capability at the cutting edge of innovation.

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Ariane 6 Parts Come Together, Europe’s Spaceport Prepares

Ariane 6 mobile gantry over the launch pad. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — The first test models of Ariane 6 are being manufactured while Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, is preparing to test the launch vehicle and all systems involved with launch.

Details on the progress of activities for Ariane 6 were recently shared at the 70th International Astronautical Congress held in Washington, USA – downloadable here (.pdf).

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China’s Chang’e 6 to Deploy French DORN Instrument on Moon to Study Lunar Exosphere

BEIJING (CNES PR) — Wednesday 6 November, on the occasion of President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the People’s Republic of China, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and Zhang Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), signed in the presence of Presidents Macron and Xi Jinping a joint statement covering two fields of investigation.

First, in 2023 China’s Chang’e 6 lunar mission will fly the French DORN instrument proposed by the IRAP astrophysics and planetology research institute. DORN’s science goals are to study the transport of volatiles through the lunar regolith and in the lunar exosphere and lunar dust.

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Signs Declaration of Intent with CNES

WASHINGTON (CNES PR) — On the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross signed a Declaration of Intent with Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) President Jean-Yves Le Gall. The Declaration charts a path forward for expanded cooperation between the Department and the French space agency on space situational awareness (SSA) and other important efforts driving the commercial development of space.

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Mars InSight’s Mole Has Partially Backed Out of Its Hole

InSight Mars mole partially backed out from its hole. (Credit NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — After making progress over the past several weeks digging into the surface of Mars, InSight’s mole has backed about halfway out of its hole this past weekend. Preliminary assessments point to unusual soil conditions on the Red Planet. The international mission team is developing the next steps to get it buried again.

A scoop on the end of the arm has been used in recent weeks to “pin” the mole against the wall of its hole, providing friction it needs to dig. The next step is determining how safe it is to move InSight’s robotic arm away from the mole to better assess the situation. The team continues to look at the data and will formulate a plan in the next few days.

Meantime, the lander’s seismometer — the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or, SEIS — continues to collect data on marsquakes in order to provide a better understanding of the Mars interior and why Earth and the Red Planet are so different today after sharing similarities billions of years ago. The French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and its partners provided the SEIS instrument to NASA.

NASA’s InSight ‘Hears’ Peculiar Sounds on Mars

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Put an ear to the ground on Mars and you’ll be rewarded with a symphony of sounds. Granted, you’ll need superhuman hearing, but NASA’s InSight lander comes equipped with a very special “ear.”

The spacecraft’s exquisitely sensitive seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), can pick up vibrations as subtle as a breeze. The instrument was provided by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), and its partners.

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