Tag Archives: moon

Full Moon seen from the ISS in August 2016 Credit: NASA/Jeff Williams

Dance with the Moon

We're celebrating today's Supermoon with a little fun: take a look outside tonight, then pop back in where it's warm and listen to our new Spotify playlist, and dance with the Moon!

Once SMART-1 has been captured by the Moon's gravity, it begins to work its way closer to the lunar surface. Credit: ESA

Last contact with SMART-1

A great little anniversary happens on 2 September 2016: the 10th anniversary of SMART-1’s final contact moments before its spectacular impact on the Moon on 3 September in 2006 (see comment below about leap years). SMART-1 travelled...

Tracking Chang’E 3 to the Moon: Teams on console ...

The Estrack teams at ESOC will be on console today to track the descent of the Chang’E-3a lander and rover, followed by surface radio location support to the lander. Read our full report in the ESA website: ESA teams ready for Moon landing Engineers will also be working on site at New Norcia (NNO) and Cebreros (CEB) stations in Australia and Spain. At ESOC, work began just after 11:00 CET this morning, with engineers staffing the Estrack control room to conduct some final verification checks on the network connections to NNO and CEB. NNO’s tracking of the descent (open-loop recording) starts at 13:26 CET and will continue through the lunar-descent phase to...

ESA receives laser signal from NASA

This report on the success of last week’s laser communication test between ESA and NASA was sent in by Marco Lanucara, one of the Estrack engineers on Tenerife for the test campaign. ESA has joined NASA to help achieve a major breakthrough in space communications. ESA has joined NASA for a major breakthrough in space communications. Using NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE, launched on 7 September 2013 and currently in orbit around the Moon), optical communications between a NASA spacecraft and an ESA ground terminal have been demonstrated up to lunar distances, pointing the way to future laser communication from deep space. For the ESA Optical Ground Station (OGS,...


NASA beams lasers at Moon, sets new data speed record

NASA this week set a new data-transmission record for space-based communication when it used a pulsed laser beam to send data to the moon, reaching a download rate of 622 megabits per second (Mbps). The space agency also achieved an upload rate of 20 Mbps. The data were beamed from a ground station in New Mexico to the agency’s new Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) orbiter. Later this year, an ESA ground station will support the testing campaign, beaming optical data to LADEE from Tenerife, Spain.

Penumbral lunar eclipse tonight

Michael Khan describes tonight’s penumbral lunar eclipse in his Scilogs blog. Late in the evening of Friday, 18 October 2013, the Moon will move into the part shadow of the Earth. The event starts at 23:50:38 CEST, the maximum will be reached at 01:50:17 CEST (19.10) and it ends at 03:49:49 CEST. We have a full moon tonight in Germany (otherwise there would be no lunar eclipse); sunset happens at 18:10; depending on where you live, the Moon will rise after 19:00. More information via NASA here; download a PDF (Penumbral Lunar Eclipse of 2013 Oct 18) here.

Lunar Surprises

Lunar exploration is struggling with the prejudice that we know all about the Moon – far from it! There are new scientific findings based on the analysis of Apollo samples that call in question the generally accepted theory about how the Moon formed. Also, scientist from Europe and in the US have just started to investigate the geochemistry of the Moon. ESA has proposed a highly interesting lunar lander mission, which was unfortunately rejected by its member states. The Lunar Lander was supposed to test how sustainable exploration can take place on the lunar surface. It is important that European states do find a possibility of a substantial lunar mission in the...

The infinite value of space science

When working in the space field, we quite often get asked: how can you justify the expenses of space research? It is funny that we get this question more often than other researchers, e.g. particle physicists or biomedical researchers, in whose fields more money is spent globally. When thinking about what to reply to this – in any case justified – question, I thought about our recent experience of the Venus transit. I was not lucky enough to witness it myself, so I read the articles that are around on the web. I found one that described the science that was done at the 2004 transit (remember, they always come in pairs, eight years...