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.

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
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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.

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ESA reentry expertise

Every week, on average, a substantial, inert satellite drops into our atmosphere and burns up. Monitoring these reentries and warning European civil authorities has become routine work for ESA’s space debris experts. Each year, about 100 tonnes...

A meteoroid - a bolide - seen burning as bight as the Moon over Oostkapelle, Belgium, at 00:11 UTC 24 February 2018. 'Astronomy! Project Oostkapelle/Jobse'
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Fire in the sky

A fireball as bright as the Moon occurred over Belgium and the Netherlands just after midnight on 23 February 2018. It was recorded by three cameras of the FRIPON network. The colour photograph shows one of the...

TGO aerobraking visualisation to March 2018. Credit: ESA

Aerobraking down, down

When TGO skims through the atmosphere, it has to adopt a specific orientation to make sure it stays stable and does not start to spin madly, which would not be optimal.

Visualisation of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter aerobraking at Mars. With aerobraking, the spacecraft's solar array experiences tiny amounts of drag owing to the wisps of martian atmosphere at very high altitudes, which slows the craft and lowers its orbit. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Keeping up with TGO

On 17 November, the flight controllers at ESOC began operations to bring the spacecraft into a new phase of the on-going aerobraking campaign, marking the start of ‘shorter’ orbits.

Phobos orbit & TGO trajectory 06:44 UTC 16 Nov 2017 Credit: ESA/R. Guilanya

Crossing Phobos 2.0

We received an update from Robert Guilanya, flight dynamics lead for ExoMars/TGO, earlier today.