Was There Life on Mars? UK Scientists Play Key Part in NASA Mission to Red Planet

Panorama of Perseverance Rover’s landing site on Mars. (Credit: NASA)

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.

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ESA Plans Mission to Explore Lunar Caves

Three images of the Marius Hills pit imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. This pit is about 34 metres deep and 65 by 90 metres wide. Marius Hills and other pits may be ‘skylights’ into extensive lava tubes. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

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.

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OQ Technology Signs 2 Million Euro Contract with ESA Under Luxembourg National Space Programme for Satellite IoT 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.

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NASA to Host Briefings, Interviews for Next Crew Rotation Mission with SpaceX

Members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station participated in training in Hawthorne, California, on Jan. 11, 2021. Pictured from left are ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. (Credit: SpaceX)

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.

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Provides Front-Row Seat to Landing, First Audio Recording of Red Planet

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.

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Touchdown! NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Safely Lands on Red Planet

A low-resolution image of the Perseverance rover’s landing site taken by an engineering camera. Dust stirred up by the landing partially obscures the terrain. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world touched down on Mars Thursday, after a 203-day journey traversing 293 million miles (472 million kilometers). Confirmation of the successful touchdown was announced in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California at 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST).

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Lands Safely on Mars

A low-resolution image of the Perseverance rover’s landing site taken by an engineering camera. Martian dust stirred up by the landing partially obscures the terrain. (Credit: NASA)

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.

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Aerospacelab Announces ESA Contract for Multispectral Companion Mission

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.

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Join the New Era of Exploration as an ESA Astronaut

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on the International Space Station working with equipment for the Airway Monitoring investigation. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

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.

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ESA Mars Orbiters Support NASA Perseverance Landing

ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter will relay data from NASA’s Perseverance rover to ground stations on Earth. (Credit: ESA)
  • 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.

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ESA Recruiting New Class of Astronauts

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti working on the 3D Printer aboard the space station. (Credits: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — For the first time in 11 years, ESA is looking for new astronauts. These recruits will work alongside ESA’s existing astronauts as Europe enters a new era of space exploration.

Media representatives are invited to a virtual press event on Tuesday, 16 February, to learn more about the vacancies that are intended to initiate a real generational change for ESA.

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ESA and JAXA Meet Online to Agree on Future Cooperation

Martian Moons mission approaches Deimos. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

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.

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NASA, International Partners Assess Mission to Map Ice on Mars, Guide Science Priorities

This artist illustration depicts four orbiters as part of the International Mars Ice Mapper (I-MIM) mission concept. Low and to the left, an orbiter passes above the Martian surface, detecting buried water ice through a radar instrument and large reflector antenna. Circling Mars at a higher altitude are three telecommunications orbiters with one shown relaying data back to Earth. (Credits: NASA)

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. 

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ESA Studies Green Satellite Propellants

Candidate ‘green’ satellite propellants within a temperature-controlled incubator, undergoing heating as a way to simulate the speeding up of time. (Credit: European Astrotech Ltd.)

PARIS (ESA PR) — 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 a study with European Astrotech Ltd in the UK to look into greener propellants and propulsion systems, to provide comparable performance with reduced toxicity and handling costs.

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