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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.

Four decades of Vilspa

On 1 September 2017, ESA’s VIL-2 antenna and its supporting facilities was formally retired after 36 years’ service.

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

Crossing Phobos

We did our best to ensure that Phobos would be at the farthest possible point away from TGO when we cross the moon's orbit.