SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — After a seven-month journey, NASA’s car-sized Mars Perseverance rover will make its final descent to the Red Planet to begin its search for traces of life.
The rover’s mission – backed by the UK government – is to explore and collect samples for future return to Earth from diverse ancient environments on Mars. Supported by over £400,000 in funds from the UK Space Agency, researchers at Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum will help to decide which samples are sent to Earth in a search for evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars.
PARIS (ESA PR) — A sustained test firing of a ‘green’ satellite thruster at Poland’s Institute of Aviation, intended as a future alternative to today’s hydrazine-based apogee engines, typically used by telecommunication satellites to manoeuvre into their final geostationary orbits.
Today hydrazine is the most common propellant employed by thrusters aboard satellites: it is highly energetic in nature but also toxic and corrosive, as well as dangerous to handle and store.
ESA initiated the Green Liquid Apogee Engine for Future Spacecraft project, GRACE, to evaluate more environmentally friendly thruster options, with testing culminating in a sustained 60-second thruster firing.
GRACE assessed various options, finding the most effective bipropellant combination used ‘high test peroxide’ (HTP) as oxidiser – a much purer version of the same chemical used to bleach hair, which is split into oxygen and water steam using a catalyst – plus TMPDA fuel.
This was a nearly all-Polish project, supported through ESA’s Polish Industry Incentive. Poland’s Institute of Aviation oversaw management, design and testing, with Jakusz providing the HTP, WB Electronics, represented by Flytronic manufacturing most thruster components. Thales Alenia Space in the UK provided requirements and guidelines for design and testing – including the provision of a 500 Newton kerosene-powered thruster, used as a model for the GRACE demonstrator.
“The programme successfully demonstrated a robust catalyst bed capable of sustaining a minute’s continuous firing,” notes ESA propulsion engineer Ferran Valencia Bel.
PARIS (ESA PR) — In a first step towards uncovering the Moon’s subterranean secrets, in 2019 we asked for your ideas to detect, map and explore lunar caves. Five ideas were selected to be studied in more detail, each addressing different phases of a potential mission.
WASSERBILLIG, Luxembourg (OQ Technology PR) –OQ Technology, a front-runner in the satellite 5G Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity business, has signed a 2 million Euro contract with the European Space Agency as part of the Luxembourg National Space program (“LuxIMPULSE”) for the in-orbit pathfinder mission (MACSAT). The contract aims to foster Luxembourg and European space partnerships and involves the development of a 6U Nanosatellite, an advanced flight payload and user terminals, and their software stack.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will highlight the second crew rotation flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station with a pair of news conferences beginning 12:30 p.m. EST Monday, March 1. The briefings, which will take place at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. The full astronaut crew flying on the mission also will be available for interviews.
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — New video from NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars.
PASADENA, Calif., February 18, 2021 (NASA PR) — Cheers erupted in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as controllers confirmed that NASA’s Perseverance rover, with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter attached to its belly, has touched down safely on Mars. Engineers are analyzing the data flowing back from the spacecraft.
Perseverance touched down in Jezero Crater at around 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST) on Feb. 18, 2021. A postlanding briefing is expected at 5:30 p.m. EST (2:30 p.m. PST) on NASA TV and YouTube.
BRUSSELS, February 16, 2021 (Aerospacelab PR) — Aerospacelab signed a co-funding contract with the European Space Agency’s Investing in Industrial Innovation (InCubed) programme for its MultiSpectral Companion Mission prototype.
The contract was signed February the 12th, during a virtual event, by Josef Aschbacher (ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes, taking function as ESA Director General in March) and Benoît Deper (Aerospacelab’s CEO). This signature was attended by Thomas Dermine, State Secretary for Scientific Policy, Recovery Program and Strategic Investments, by members of the Belgium Delegation and different ESA representatives.
PARIS (ESA PR) — For the first time in over a decade, the European Space Agency (ESA) is seeking new astronauts to join humankind’s greatest adventure for the benefit of Earth.
Applications open 31 March 2021 and ESA’s Astronaut Selection webpage provides everything you need to know to prepare a strong application and apply. This site is the hub for all ESA astronaut selection content and will be updated throughout the campaign.
On 18 February, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will land on the Red Planet
ESA’s Mars orbiters – the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Mars Express – are supporting the landing
TGO will relay important data from Perseverance to Earth as soon as four hours after landing
Mars Express is monitoring the local conditions at the landing site, Jezero Crater
Both ESA orbiters are providing context images of the region
TGO will attempt to image the rover in the weeks after landing
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is due to land on the Red Planet at 21:43 CET on 18 February 2021. In order to communicate with Earth from its landing site in Jezero Crater, the rover will rely on spacecraft orbiting Mars to relay the images and other data it collects back to Earth and pass on the commands from engineers beamed across space in the other direction.
PARIS (ESA PR) — In November 2020, the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched into orbit from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Now, months later, the satellite has successfully passed what is known as the ‘in-orbit verification phase’, where its equipment is switched on and the instruments’ performance is checked.
PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director General Jan Wörner and President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Dr Hiroshi Yamakawa took part in an online bilateral meeting on 4 February, confirming the status of cooperative activities between the two agencies.
NASA needs to shift its strategy from preventing future space debris to leading a global effort to actively cleaning up the debris that is already in Earth orbit, according to a new report from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and three international partners have signed a statement of intent to advance a possible robotic Mars ice mapping mission, which could help identify abundant, accessible ice for future candidate landing sites on the Red Planet. The agencies have agreed to establish a joint concept team to assess mission potential, as well as partnership opportunities.