Mars Express — from worry, to water

In 2004, a year after Europe’s first mission to Mars was launched, the flight dynamics team at ESA’s operations centre encountered a serious problem. New computer models showed a worrying fate for the Mars Express spacecraft if...

Impacting the ‘dark side’

The Moon is as old as the Earth, at about 4.5 billion years of age. For as long as there have been creatures on Earth able to observe it, the Moon has been there to be seen....

Capture the Moon, Mars, and the ISS

For those in the right position, July 2018 is proving to be a particularly pleasing month for gazing heavenwards. On Friday 27, the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century will take place. For 1 hour...

Salma Fahmy, team member on the Solar Orbiter Project Office at ESTEC Credit: ESA/D. Lakey

First contact

This first contact with the real spacecraft is an exciting step after having spent years working on paper!

ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli took this image of Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica from the International Space Station during his VITA mission. He posted this image to social media, adding "Passing from West to East I would have got all of #Italy... Too bad it was a bit cloudy in the North!" Credit: ESA/NASA/R. Nespoli

Unispace+50 and perspectives for the future

A special youth and space panel will be held at UNISPACE+50 in Vienna on 19 June, including astronaut Scott Kelly, the UN’s ‘Champion for Space’. The panel will provide a forum to discuss technical advancements and findings...

Artist's impression of Mars Express. The background is based on an actual image of Mars taken by the spacecraft's high resolution stereo camera Credit:s: Spacecraft image credit: ESA/ATG medialab; Mars: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Mars Express is good to go

Just like when your smartphone or tablet receives new software to improve its functionality and extend its life, Mars Express got an upgrade to enable it to keep flying.

Concept for ESA's future space debris surveillance system employing ground-based optical, radar and laser technology as well as in-orbit survey instruments. Credit: ESA/Alan Baker, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Tiangong-1 reentry: How ESA found out

Editor’s note: ESA’s Space Debris team have sent in a final update on the reentry of Tiangong-1. As we posted earlier, around once a year, ESA takes part in a joint tracking campaign run by the Inter...

Tiangong-1 Credit: Aerospace Corporation

Splashed down!

The US air force has confirmed the reentry of the Tiangong-1 spacecraft at about 02:16 CEST this morning over the southern Pacific Ocean. The location of the reentry was, by chance, not too far from the so-called...

Tiangong-1 seen at an altitude of about 161 km by the powerful TIRA research radar operated by the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (FHR) near Bonn, Germany. Image acquired on the morning of 1 April 2018, during one of the craft's final orbits. Credit: Fraunhofer FHR

Monitoring (almost) complete

With the reentry of Tiangong-1 now forecast to happen within a few hours, ESA's formal role in the tracking campaign is winding down.