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ESA

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Development of the ESMO student Moon satellite gets under way

ESA Logo. Credits: ESA

[ESA Press Release - 06.11.2009]
ESA's Education Office has awarded a contract to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd of the UK to manage the development and testing of the first European student mission to the Moon. Launch is expected in 2013-2014.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has been selected as the prime contractor for the European Student Moon Orbiter (ESMO) project. The final signature of the contract took place on 4 November 2009. The mission involves delivering a spacecraft to lunar orbit, followed by 6 months of operations that include mapping of the lunar surface and studying our nearest neighbour.

The ambitions of Europe in space

ESA Logo. Credits: ESA

[ESA Press Release - 19.10.2009]
A conference on ‘The Ambitions of Europe in Space’ on 15 and 16 October brought together members of the European Parliament, Council, European Commission, agencies, industry, research entities, operators, financing institutions as well as interested people from the media and public.

In his opening speech, the newly re-elected president of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, noted that space is an enabling tool allowing Europe to face some fundamental challenges: fighting the economic crisis, ensuring the well-being of our citizens, tackling climate change, finding ways to unleash our full potential for innovation and job creation, and to bring about a true knowledge society, as well as reinforcing Europe’s position in the world scene.

Hydrogen offers a new way to study the Moon

Chandrayaan-1 SARA measurements of hydrogen flux. Credits: Elsevier and ESA/ISRO

[ESA Press Release - 16.10.2009]
The Moon is a surprisingly strong source of hydrogen atoms. That is the surprise discovery from ESA-ISRO instrument SARA onboard the Indian Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter. It gives scientists an interesting new way to study both the Moon and any other airless bodies in the Solar System.

According to conventional wisdom, the lunar surface is a loose collection of irregular dust grains. Any particle that hits it should bounce between the grains and be absorbed. But the new results clearly show that one out of every five protons incoming from the solar wind rebounds from the Moon’s surface. In the process, the proton joins with an electron to become an atom of hydrogen.

A new view of the Apollo 11 landing site from SMART-1

Apollo 11 landing site from Smart-1. Credits: ESA

[ESA Press Release - 20.07.2009]
History was made at 03:56 CEST on 21 July 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped off the lunar module and placed his left foot on the surface of the Moon. During this International Year of Astronomy the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of this inspirational event. The landing site of the Apollo 11 mission is just one of the many images of our closest neighbour taken by the SMART-1 spacecraft as it orbited the Moon between 2004 and 2006.

Experience a virtual journey to the lunar Peak of Eternal Light

SMART-1 mosaic of the lunar south pole. Credits: ESA/Space-X

[ESA Press Release - 27.07.2009]
The first public showing of ‘The Peak of Eternal Light’, a new movie created using images taken by ESA’s SMART-1 lunar orbiter, took place one a week ago at the Ars Electronica Center (AEC), Linz, Austria. This movie was shown as part of a special event to mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, during this International Year of Astronomy.

ESA's Director General on Apollo 11 anniversary

[ESA Press Release - 20.07.2009]
ESA's Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain discusses the significance of the Apollo anniversary and of continuing lunar exploration.

Forty years ago, man first set foot on the Moon. What did that signify?

Back then, it meant that US technology was stronger than Soviet technology, because it was the US flag that was planted on the Moon. But today, I think we can see this in a totally different light. The fact that it was a US flag is no longer what matters most.

Help to define a lunar lander

Artist impression of Moonbase. Credits: ESA

[ESA Press Release - 02.03.2009]
ESA's Directorate of Human Spaceflight is inviting industrial, technology and scientific communities to provide inputs for experiments and payload elements for accommodation on its first lunar lander.

This Request for Information follows last year's ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, where funding was approved for ESA to work towards launching a lunar lander in the 2017–20 timeframe within the European Transportation and Human Exploration Preparatory Activities programme and the Global Exploration Strategy (GES).

Germany's CESAR crowned king of rovers in ESA’s Robotics Challenge

[ESA Press Release - 04.11.2008]
A robot rover designed by a Bremen university team has won an ESA contest to retrieve soil samples from a lunar-style terrestrial crater. Eight student teams fielded rovers during the event, their progress monitored by an advanced 3-D viewer already flight-tested in space and planned for eventual deployment on the Moon.

Craters surrounding the Moon's poles are a top 21st Century science target. Lunar researchers believe these craters may be 'cold traps', preserving ancient water ice deposits. Such ice would not only be an invaluable time capsule, it would also support manned lunar settlements. But the only way to verify the ice is there is to go fetch it, which is where rovers come in.

ESA's Lunar Robotics Challenge: A tough task for the student teams

Surrey University SELENE rover. Credits: The University of Surrey Lunar Rover Team

[ESA Press Release - 27.10.2008]
The Teide volcanic peak on the island of Tenerife acted as a mock-up of the Moon landscape last week, with eight European student teams tuning, testing and driving their lunar rovers in preparation for a robotics competition that took place during the dark nights of last weekend.

Roving on the Moon is not easy. Lunar robotic explorers have to travel in a vacuum, over rough and steep terrain covered by crust and dust. The Sun heats the rovers up to 110°C and, when driving into a shadow, the temperature can drop to -100°C, or almost -200°C in the polar regions. The rovers have to be remote-controlled or able to steer themselves autonomously, making manoeuvres and scientific research very difficult.

Chandrayaan-1 successfully launched – next stop: the Moon

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[ESA Press Release - 22.10.2008]
Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the Moon, was successfully launched earlier this morning from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) in Sriharikota, India.

The PSLV-C11 rocket, an upgraded version of the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO’s) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, lifted off at 02:52 Central European Summer Time (CEST) and, about 20 minutes later, injected the spacecraft into a highly elongated orbit around the Earth.

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