European Space Agency Flickr Update

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CubeSat micro-pulsed plasma thruster
13-06-2018 10:37 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

CubeSat micro-pulsed plasma thruster

This micro-pulsed plasma thruster has been designed for propulsion of miniature CubeSats; its first firing is seen here. The thruster works by pulsing a lightning-like electric arc between two electrodes. This vaporizes the thruster propellant into charged plasma, which is then accelerated in the electromagnetic field set up between the electrodes.

Developed for ESA by Mars Space Ltd and Clyde Space of the UK with Southampton University, this 2 Watt, 42 Newton-second impulse plasma thruster has been qualified for space, with more than a million firing pulses demonstrated during testing.

It has been designed for a range of uses, including drag compensation in low orbits, orbit maintenance, formation flying and small orbit transfers. The thruster could also serve as a CubeSat deorbiting device, gradually reducing orbital altitude until atmospheric re-entry is achieved.

About the size of a DVD reader, the thruster weighs just 280 grams including its propellant load and drive electronics.

Credits: ESA/Mars Space

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European Space Agency YouTube Update

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13-06-2018 07:36 PM CEST

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst spoke to European media from the International Space Station on 12 June 2018, just three days after docking with the orbiting outpost.

The press conference was held at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, and was mainly in German.

Alexander answered questions on climate, how it feel to be in space a second time, and the football World Cup.

This is Alexander’s second six-month stay on the International Space Station. The mission is called Horizons as a symbol for the unknown and what lies beyond. The mission further cements ESA’s know-how for living and working off-planet. Alexander will be testing ways of operating and working with robots to develop techniques required for further human and robotic exploration of our Solar System such as commanding rovers while orbiting another planet.

The Horizons science programme is packed with European research: Alexander will take part in over 50 experiments to deliver benefits to people on Earth as well as prepare for future space exploration. Many of these experiments will take place in Europe’s Columbus laboratory that is celebrating its 10th anniversary in space this year.

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Follow Alexander and the Horizons mission on social media via http://bit.ly/AlexanderGerstESA and on http://bit.ly/HorizonsBlogESA.


13-06-2018 07:29 PM CEST

Discover more about our planet with the Earth from Space video programme. In this special edition, ESA’s Aeolus Project Manager, Anders Elfving, joins us in the cleanroom at Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, to talk about the challenges in developing the mission’s pioneering laser technology.

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Learn more about Aeolus: http://bit.ly/AeolusESA

Asteroids and space debris come together for the first time

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Asteroids and space debris come together for the first time
13-06-2018 09:45 AM CEST

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In January 2019, ESA will hold its first-ever joint technology conference that brings together two fundamental pillars of space safety and security: the hunt for near-Earth objects, like asteroids, and the need to detect space debris in Earth orbit.

Exploiting Synergies will include the latest in observation techniques, orbit determination methods, risk management and data exchange for both naturally formed risky rocks and potentially hazardous man-made debris.

ESA experts teach students during Product Assurance Awareness Training Course 2018

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ESA experts teach students during Product Assurance Awareness Training Course 2018
12-06-2018 03:56 PM CEST

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Product Assurance (PA) is a vital aspect of all space missions. In order to help to prepare the next generation of PA engineers, from 29 May to 1 June 2018, ESA Education Office organised the Product Assurance Awareness Training Course 2018.

European Space Agency Flickr Update

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Gravity for the loss
12-06-2018 06:21 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Gravity for the loss

Space agencies of Europe, assemble!

Last week, ESA, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and French space agency CNES joined forces to run a special parabolic flight campaign entirely dedicated to life science experiments. Between 4 and 7 June, eight experiments were run in three different levels of partial gravity, another first for a parabolic flight campaign.

During our more common zero-gravity parabolic flights, research teams are subjected to 20-second bursts of weightlessness during which they run experiments ranging from life sciences, to technology demonstrations, to material physics. Results offer an indication of how various mechanisms work without gravity and are compared to results on the ground. But what happens at varying degrees of weightlessness?

To help fill in the graph, scientists were offered a unique opportunity to run experiments at one-quarter, one-half, and three-quarters gravity. The aim is to better understand biological dependence on gravity. Ultimately, if humans are to embark on long-term spaceflight and live on the Moon and Mars, we need to determine the levels of gravity in which humans can live and work.

One experiment investigated the effects of partial gravity on brain function. Previous studies have shown that short exposure to microgravity increased neurocognitive functions due to increased blood flow to the brain. However, longer-term spaceflight, in which increased blood flow to the brain is more permanent, showed negative effects on cognition. In this campaign, studying the phenomenon in partial gravity is helping scientists better understand where we draw the line for optimal performance.

Another team subjected baby plant roots to doses of partial gravity and monitored root growth using lasers to investigate how the roots manage to stay “grounded” in the absence of gravity. We know plants adapt to weightlessness rather quickly, but researchers still need a clearer picture of what’s happening on a cellular level. Extra-terrestrial farming is vital to human survival off-planet, and adapting agriculture to altered gravity is an important step to making this possible. For a full list of experiments, see here.

Parabolic flights are one of a few ways to recreate microgravity conditions on Earth, but how is this achieved? The A310 Zero-G aircraft, operated by Novespace in Bordeaux, France, repeatedly performs a special manoeuvre. After pulling up sharply to 50 degrees, the pilots reduce the thrust and pitch of the airplane to cancel air-drag and lift. This places the plane on a parabolic flight path, exactly as if it has been thrown upwards and released. It then essentially falls over the top of the parabola, creating 20 seconds of 0g. When it reaches 50 degrees nose-down, the plane then pulls out of the descent to normal flight.

To achieve partial gravity, the angle at which the plane pulls up and pulls out is shallower, and the pilots carefully cancel out only part of the lift. This creates about 25 seconds of one-quarter gravity, or 35 seconds of half-gravity, or 50 seconds of three-quarters gravity. The manoeuvre is performed every three minutes for a total of 31 times per flight. Watch a tour of the Zero-G aircraft here.

In addition to this unique collaboration between ESA, DLR, and CNES, the partial gravity parabolic flight campaign also featured a special guest experiment by NASA and pilot-turned-ESA-astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

„It was a real privilege to work on this unique campaign, not only because of the constructive collaboration with my colleagues from DLR and CNES, but also to provide such an interesting suite of experiments with rare and much-needed data,” said Neil Melville, Coordinator of Parabolic flight and Drop Tower campaigns. He is pictured on the left, alongside Katrin Stang of DLR and Sébastien Rouquette of CNES)

“We are certainly looking forward to the results the science teams will publish once their analyses are completed, and hope to perform a similar campaign in the future.“

ESA conducts 0g parabolic flight campaigns twice per year for microgravity research. Learn more here.

Credits: Novespace

Hand-sewn insulation blankets
12-06-2018 11:11 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Hand-sewn insulation blankets

One of the main activities in recent weeks for the BepiColombo team at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou has been the installation of multi-layered insulation foils and sewing of high-temperature blankets on the Mercury Planetary Orbiter.

The insulation is to protect the spacecraft from the extreme thermal conditions that will be experienced in Mercury orbit.

While conventional multi-layered insulation appears gold-coloured, the upper layer of the module’s striking white high-temperature blanket provides the focus of this image.

The white blankets are made from quartz fibres. Because the fabric is not electrically conductive, to control the build-up of electrostatic charge on the surface of the spacecraft, conducting threads have been woven through the outer layer every 10 cm. The edges of the outer blanket are hand-sewn together once installed on the module, as seen in this image.

The face of the spacecraft the engineer is working on is the panel that will always look at Mercury’s surface and as such many of the science instruments are focused here. This includes the orbiter’s cameras and spectrometers, a laser altimeter and particle analyser.

The panel also has fixtures to connect the module to the Transfer Module during the cruise to Mercury.

The face of the spacecraft pointing to the left in this orientation is the spacecraft radiator, which will eventually be fitted with ‘fins’ designed to reflect heat directionally, allowing the spacecraft to fly at low altitude over the hot surface of the planet. Heat generated by spacecraft subsystems and payload components, as well as heat that comes from the Sun and Mercury and ‘leaks’ through the blankets into the spacecraft, will be conducted to the radiator by heat pipes and ultimately radiated into space.

The oval shapes correlate to star trackers, used for navigation, while a spectrometer is connected with ground support equipment towards the top. At the back of this face, the magnetometer boom can be seen folded against the spacecraft – it has now also been fitted with multi-layered insulation.

For more images of the launch preparations at Kourou visit the BepiColombo image gallery.

Credits: ESA–B. Guillaume

New Environment Publication – June 2018

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Salmon. Much more than a fish species. An important community oriented industry to understand.
Don’t miss this new Environment publication from the U.S. Government Bookstore! CLICK TO LEARN MORE!

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New Environment Publication – June 2018

New and Noteworthy LogoWelcome to the U.S. Government Publishing Office’s New Titles by Topic email alert service for Environment publications!

This new publications, „An Incredible Journey“ is oriented toward children with a lighthearted but valuable life lesson about the lives of salmon and the communities who rely on fishing.

An Incredible Journey

An Incredible Journey This book explores the lives of salmon, the communities who’ve relied on salmon fishing as a key component of their culture and how government is rallying to save the salmon from extinction. It speaks to children yet the lessons within are for all to read and consider.

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New Travel Publications – June 2018

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Kids and Parents – Experience a "Rocky Mountain High" plus Explore Hawaii’s Volcanoes
Don’t miss these new Travel publications from the U.S. Government Bookstore! CLICK TO LEARN MORE!

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New Travel Publications – June 2018

New and Noteworthy LogoWelcome to the U.S. Government Publishing Office’s New Titles by Topic email alert service for Travel publications!

These new publications, „Rocky Mountain National Park (Map), Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Junior Ranger Handbook: A Guide to Discovery and Exploration of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park“ offer readers the opportunity to learn about America’s great mountain experiences and the power of nature within volcanoes.

Rocky Mountain National Park (Map)

Rocky Mountain National Park (Map) Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. The Rocky Mountain National Park map is a 1:50 000-scale topographic map.

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