Archive for the ‘ ESA ’ Category

Lutetia…we are on our way!

“The Rosetta orbiter, which carries the DLR lander Philae, has completed more than two thirds of its journey to the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The most comprehensive cometary investigation ever, the mission will deliver DLR’s Philae lander to the comet’s surface for in situ studies. The spacecraft and lander are due to close in on 21 Lutetia, a large Main Belt Asteroid on 10 July.”

Read full article at DLR website and follow ESA’s blog for updated information.


CoRoT update – More and better data – With Malcolm Fridlund

Catching up where we left with CoRoT on the last occasion Malcolm Fridlund visited us. News about future papers, the detector chain issue and adressing answers to the following questions by Galzi, a BtC reader*:

I hope it’s really a problem with the methods of detection and not a real scarcity of planets. Kepler will give us soon better planetary statistics, but according to present Harps data 1/3 of solar-type stars have neptunes or superearths with orbital periods of fifty days or less, i.e. a planetary population well within Corot reach if they happen to transit their star. Are there issues with unexpected noise sources or sistematics that are swamping the small guys from the lightcurves?

The loss of the detector chain is worrying, especially now that Corot is approaching the end of its nominal mission. Is there a chance to have the mission extended after this accident?

Let’s read what the Project Scientist has to say:

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Defying Gravity to Define Gravity – GOCE’s heart starts beating

What a fantastic day…aside the news arriving from the Kepler front regarding the acquisition of its first light it was also the day that the heart of ESA’s GOCE started beating…on this occasion the right person to tell us about what happened returned to Beyond the Cradle, Mark Drinkwater, GOCE Mission Scientist is here one more to share his thoughts with the readers:  

Over the course of the last weeks, since the successful launch from Plesetsk, Russia on 17 March, teams of flight operations staff have been feverishly working to commission the GOCE satellite. GOCE was injected into orbit at an altitude of 283 km on 17 March. Since then, it has been freefalling at a rate of 150 to 200 m a day and will be allowed to continue to do so in a controlled manner until we enter the so-called “drag-free mode” of ion thruster operation – before starting the first science measurement operations phase.

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GOCE is where it belongs!

This afternoon, after yesterday’s delay, expectations were high at Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia, waiting to see if GOCE would finally make it.

It did.

As I couldn’t, personally, follow the launch, I came running on the first opportunity to check how things went and to post the more recent news, but looks like someone did the homework for me…looking at the recent comments there was one from Mark Drinkwater, GOCE Mission Scientist:

I can happily report that the GOCE satellite was successfully launched from Plesetsk today and has been placed into the correct orbit by its Rockot launcher! At my time of writing, we have had contact with the satellite on two successive revolutions at the Kiruna and Svalbard ground stations, and now the launch teams take a well-deserved break. ESOC in Darmstadt is now controlling the satellite and will continue with the Early Operations Phase to establish the health of the satellite now we are safely “on orbit”.

We are all elated that Europe has successfully opened a new Chapter in Earth Observation. The launch of GOCE is the first in a series of six Earth Explorer missions. Over the course of the next 9 months, we plan to launch the SMOS mission (in July), and then CryoSat-2 towards the end of the year. A busy year for ESA indeed, but a key marker for Europe in terms of consolidating its global position at the forefront of Earth Observation. 

Congratulations to ESA and the GOCE team in particular, now it is time to set the focus on the hard work ahead!

And Mark, many thanks for the time to keep us updated, that was really appreciated!

For more information read ESA’s press release.

GOCE launch delayed

Expected to reach its destiny today, GOCE, ESA’s mission to map our planet’s gravity field in unprecedented detail, saw its countdown stopped only seven seconds before launch.

Behind this decision was the fact of the doors of the launch service tower did not open, helding in position and not moving back. 


Investigations are under way, and Mark Drinkwater, GOCE Mission Scientist, informed Beyond the Cradle of the following: 

All information indicates we try again tomorrow at the same time. 

It is a simple case of an issue with the launch tower, and so countdown was stopped.

The satellite is safe and is ready to try again tomorrow, provided that go ahead is confirmed later this evening. 

GOCE is the first of a series of ESA’s Earth Explorer satellites in orbit, designed to provide information for understanding climate change as well as other critical Earth system variables.


For more information about the mission and updates concerning the launch visit GOCE’s site.


EDITED: Launch is now scheduled for tomorrow, March 17, at 14:21 UTC.


Image credit: ESA – AOES Medialab


GOCE: destined to reveal more about one of the Earth’s most intimate attributes – Gravity. – With Mark Drinkwater

Dr. Mark Drinkwater

GOCE Mission Scientist and Head of Mission Science Division,

ESA Earth Observation Programmes


The European Space Agency (ESA) is launching the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE)

satellite to map our planet’s gravity field in unprecedented detail. As part of ESA’s Living Planet Programme, GOCE is the first of a series of Earth Explorer satellites in orbit, designed to provide information for understanding climate change as well as other critical Earth system variables.


The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission is currently on schedule for lift off on a Rockot launch vehicle on Monday 16 March at 15:21hrs CET (14:21hrs GMT) from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.  GOCE, the European Space Agency’s first Earth Explorer mission, promises to match its good looks with high quality global gravity data acquired by a satellite and sensor package that embodies the latest technology (See GOCE mission site).


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