European Space Agency

  1. Space

    Sticky-Footed Spider Robot Could Help Out on Space Missions (And Also Haunt Our Dreams)

    If there's one thing we can agree about regarding space, it's that it doesn't have enough robots in it yet. Scientists at Simon Frasier University in Canada feel this way as well, so they're working on a bot that can climb walls vertically to aid human astronauts on space missions. Let's just hope it never achieves sentience and begins to resent us.

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  2. Space

    Fly over the Surface of Mars in 3D with the Most Complete Imagery to Date

    We might have a rover driving around Mars, investigating the soil, and spawning parody Twitter accounts, but the European Space Agency's Mars Express Spacecraft is no slouch. It has made a full orbit of Mars almost 12,000 times, which has enabled it to map a significant portion of martian terrain, and now we can watch a really accurate 3D flyover.

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  3. Space

    The ESA’s Rosetta Is About To Complete Its’ Ten-Year Mission

    The ESA's Rosetta spacecraft is boldly going where no man has gone before - into comet territory. After being placed in a space-coma for a whole decade, the Rosetta is finally scheduled to wake up and complete the task for which is was made - in just 100 days.

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  4. Space

    Astronauts Survive Crazy Spaceflight Training In A Cave

    Six astronauts have survived an unorthodox new method of spaceflight training: marathon team spelunking! Spending almost a week underground, the training is designed to expose future astronauts to the isolation and danger awaiting them in outer space. I'm not sure if this makes me want to be an astronaut way more, or way less.

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  5. Space

    We Hardly Knew Ye: ESA’s Herschel Space Telescope Powering Down for Good

    Since it's launch in 2009, the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Telescope has treated us to some truly amazing images of space. All good things must come to an end, though, and the ESA's shiniest toy is just about out of time. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, the liquid helium tanks that provide coolant for the telescope's impressive instrumentation will run dry, marking the close of a good run for one of the most powerful instruments ever used to capture images of space.

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  6. Space

    Twinsies! Alpha Centauri A Has A Cool Outer Layer, Just Like Our Sun

    The Sun, it will surprise no one, is very, very hot. What is surprising -- and consistently baffling to researchers -- is that there are certain parts of the sun that are actually rather chilly. You know, in comparison to the rest of the Sun, which, as we've covered, is just exceedingly warm. The European Space Agency's (ESA) Herschel observatory may have made a stride or two towards understanding the strange phenomenon, though, as it has recorded the first evidence of a similar cool outer layer in a star that isn't the Sun. The same cool layer has been observed for the first time in Alpha Centauri A, a relatively nearby star noted for its similarities to our own Sun.

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  7. Space

    Russian Meteorite Explosion Was As Powerful As 30 Hiroshima Atomic Bombs

    Now that the dust has settled from last Friday's spectacular meteorite explosion over Russia, the facts are slowly coming in about just how big the explosion really was, and it's turning out to be a bigger blast than pretty much anyone initially suspected. According to an assessment released today by the European Space Agency (ESA), the meteorite that fell to Earth in Russia's Chelyabinsk region and injured nearly 1,000 people could have done much worse, as it exploded with the force of 30 atomic bombs. Keep reading for the full breakdown and another look at the unprecedented blast.

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  8. Space

    European Space Agency Planning Mission to Deflect Asteroids, Could Inspire Armageddon 2

    A proposed mission by the European Space Agency seeks to send a pair of spacecraft out to a nearby asteroid to test the effects of smashing one of the crafts into the asteroid at 6.25 km/second. The primary goal is to see how well a possible method of asteroid deflection would work, but it won't do anything as spectacular as actually blowing up the asteroid. I guess they're saving that honor for Bruce Willis.

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  9. Space

    Nice Knowing You: Dangerous Asteroid Apophis is Bigger, More Dangerous Than We Thought

    The asteroid Apophis, clearly named for the Stargate SG-1 villain, has been called a "doomsday asteroid," because in 2004 there was a study that said there was a 2.7% chance of Apophis hitting Earth when it flies past us in 2029. That study has since been disproved, but astronomers are keeping a close eye on Apophis anyhow, which is due for another pass in 2036. One telescope in Europe has captured new images of Apophis that reveal it's even larger than initially believed. That can't be good.

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  10. Science

    Good Practice: Astronauts Discover New Species Here on Earth

    A training seminar for astronauts from around the world ended up being more fruitful than anyone imagined earlier this year, as participants turned up an never-before-seen species of crustacean during their journey. The new species was discovered during the course of the European Space Agency's CAVES training program, which sends teams of astronauts into unusual environments to hone their skills in field geology, meteorology, and cataloging new species -- so you have to think that at least one of those objectives went down as a clear success this trip.

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  11. Space

    Robotic Resupply Ship Docking With Space Station Apparently Looks Gorgeous

    This incredible photo was snapped from the International Space Station last week when the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Eduardo Amaldi docked with the orbiting outpost. The ATV can be seen in the background, with its four solar panels extended and illuminated by the spacecraft's thrusters. Below, the eerie glow of the Earth's atmosphere and smeared city lights provide an astounding backdrop. Just a quick reminder that everything is cooler in space.

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  12. Space

    Gorgeous Phytoplankton Bloom Spotted From Space

    While the Earth can wow us with its stunning natural beauty, sometimes you need a pretty unique vantage point to really appreciate it. For instance, this picture of a phytoplankton bloom swirling in a figure-eight pattern probably wouldn't look like much if you were in the midst of it. But when viewed from the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite, the smearing shapes and bold colors can really be appreciated. In addition to being pretty to look at, images like this can give scientists a better understanding of the microscopic phytoplankton -- which play a huge role in removing carbon from the atmosphere and form the basis of the marine food chain.

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  13. Space

    Russian Soyuz Rocket Lifts Off in First Historic South American Launch

    Today saw the successful first flight of a Russian-made Soyuz rocket from the European Space Agency (ESA) launch site in popular French South American colonial holding French Guiana. The liftoff was the first time a Soyuz rocket has blasted off from any location other than the six launchpads operated by the Russian Space Agency, and took place in a newly constructed facility at the Guiana Space Centre (GSC). For the ESA, the flight bolsters the status of the GSC as a major player in space flight. It also works to cement relations between Russia and the ESA, giving both organizations access to an extremely reliable launch vehicle in the Soyuz and an ideal equatorial launch site. So ideal that the Soyuz realized a nearly 50% boost in efficiency thanks to the Earth's spin, allowing the rocket to carry three tons into space instead of the normal 1.7 tons when launched from the traditional home of the rocket.

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  14. Space

    European Space Agency to Send Probe Closer to the Sun Than Ever Before

    Just a few days ago, the European Space Agency (ESA) accepted a proposal for the Solar Orbiter project. The project involves the construction of complexly heat-shielded probe due to be launched sometime in 2017. On its orbit around the sun,  it'll come as close as 42 million km, a record-breaking proximity. While it's largely an ESA undertaking, NASA will be lending a helping hand, providing a few of the components for the probe and the rocket that'll take it into orbit.

    The project rose up out of the ESA's Cosmic Vision initiative, which plans missions as far as 10 years into the future. The various candidates were subject to four years of debate and consideration before the Solar Orbiter was chosen as a successful one. Considering the probe will have a 1 billion euro price tag, every second of that debate was probably worthwhile.

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  15. Space

    Researchers Find Elusive Oxygen Molecules In Space

    The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that the Herschel Space Observatory has found the first significant evidence of molecular oxygen in the Orion Nebula. The amount of oxygen found is ten times larger than was expected based on previous observations of other molecular clouds, however is still well below theoretical expectations. Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the Universe (after hydrogen and helium) and is a critical part of the chemistry of molecular clouds. It is also fundamental to life on Earth, which makes finding it in space the subject of intense research. The Herschel results suggest that under the right circumstances, heat from newly created stars can free oxygen frozen on grains of dust. This would increase the amount of molecular oxygen that is able to form in warm, dense gas clouds like the Orion Nebula.

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