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ESA Top Multimedia

ESA Top Multimedia

Vega-C liftoff

ESA’s new Vega-C rocket lifted off for its inaugural flight VV21 at 15:13 CEST/13:13 UTC/10:13 local time from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. With new first and second stages and an uprated fourth stage, Vega-C increases performance to about 2.3 t in a reference 700 km polar orbit, from the 1.5 t capability of its predecessor, Vega. For flight VV21, Vega-C’s payload is LARES-2, a scientific mission of the Italian space agency ASI and six research CubeSats from France, Italy and Slovenia.

Construction begins on a new ESA giant in Australia

Construction has begun on the fourth deep-space antenna in ESA’s global network.

The new 35 m-diameter antenna will help fill a gap in supporting communications and data download for upcoming missions exploring our Solar System, studying our Universe and protecting Earth from solar hazards and risky asteroids, such as ESA’s Juice and Hera missions.

It will join ESA’s existing deep-space antenna at the Agency’s New Norcia ground station, located 140 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia, and is expected to enter operation in early-2025.

Representatives from ESA, Australia’s national and regional governments, and the Australian Space Agency met on 16 June to kick off active construction at the New Norcia site.

The Australian Space Agency is providing local and financial support to the project. Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has been ESA’s local partner for operations and maintenance since 2019 and will likewise be responsible for the new antenna.

Read more here.

Vega-C VV21 with LARES-2 ready for launch

Vega-C VV21 with LARES-2 ready for launch as the gantry is being retracted on 13 July 2022 at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Vega-C brings a new level of performance to ESA's launch family. With new first and second stages and an uprated fourth stage, Vega-C increases performance to about 2.3 t in a reference 700 km polar orbit, from the 1.5 t capability of its predecessor, Vega. Download the VV21 media kit (ENDEESFRIT) to learn more.

Vega-C features a new, more powerful first stage, P120C, based on Vega’s P80. Atop that is a new second stage, Zefiro-40, and then the same Zefiro-9 third stage as used on Vega.  

The re-ignitable upper stage is also improved. AVUM+ has increased liquid propellant capacity, to deliver payloads to multiple orbits depending on mission requirements and to allow for longer operational time in space, to enable extended missions.

The P120C motor will do double service, with either two or four units acting as strap-on boosters for Ariane 6. Sharing this component streamlines industrial efficiency and improves cost-effectiveness of both launchers.

With its larger main stages and bigger fairing – which doubles the payload volume compared to Vega – Vega-C measures 34.8 m high, nearly 5 m taller than Vega.

The new launcher configuration delivers a significant improvement in launch system flexibility. Vega-C can orbit larger satellites, two main payloads or can accommodate various arrangements for rideshare missions. ESA’s upcoming Space Rider return-to-Earth vehicle will be launched to orbit on Vega-C.

Cosmic Cliffs in Carina – NIRCam

Cosmic Cliffs in Carina – NIRCam

Stephan’s Quintet – NIRCam and MIRI imaging

Stephan’s Quintet – NIRCam and MIRI imaging

Southern Ring Nebula in near- and mid-infrared light

Southern Ring Nebula in near- and mid-infrared light

Exoplanet WASP-96 b – NIRISS transmission spectrum

Exoplanet WASP-96 b – NIRISS transmission spectrum

Ariane 6 central core verticalisation 11 July 2022

Ariane 6 central core verticalisation 11 July 2022

Vega-C meets scientific challenge

The main payload aboard Vega-C inaugural flight VV21 is LARES-2. Giorgio Saccoccia, president of the Italian space agency ASI, explains a mission designed to measure effects predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

Webb’s first deep field

Webb’s first deep field

Vega-C: Stacked and ready to launch

ESA’s newest launcher stands nearly 35m tall when its four stages and payload are fully stacked. For its inaugural flight, VV21, the main payload is LARES-2, a scientific mission of the Italian space agency, ASI.

Access the related broadcast quality video material.

Alaska wildfires

Alaska wildfires

Discs for fault detection

Discs for fault detection

Belgrade at night, Serbia

Belgrade at night, Serbia

Earth from Space: Fuerteventura and Lanzarote

This week's edition of the Earth from Space programme features a Copernicus Sentinel-2 false-colour image of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, part of the Canary Islands lying in the North Atlantic Ocean.
See also Fuerteventura and Lanzarote to download the image.

Scouts: ESA’s agile research missions

Complementing the well-established series of Earth Explorer research satellite missions, Scout missions are a new component of ESA's Earth Observation FutureEO programme. This new family of small satellites delivers value-added science, either by miniaturising existing space technologies or by demonstrating new observing techniques. Importantly, the overarching aim is to achieve all of this quickly.

What do you hear, Starbuck?

FedCon is one of Europe's largest science fiction conventions, its 2022 edition held earlier this month in Bonn in Germany. Actors from the many incarnations of Star Trek, as well as Star Wars, Doctor Who, and other science fiction shows met with thousands of fans.

ESA has been taking part in FedCon since 2015, with talks, panels, and a stand covering our space science, earth observation, and human exploration missions. At this year's event, scientists and engineers from ESTEC, ESOC, and the EAC gave talks about JWST, Rosetta, mission operations, and careers with ESA.

In addition, to help celebrate FedCon's 30th anniversary, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti sent a special message from her current Minerva mission on the ISS. She was dressed in an outfit worn by flight crew in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series (2004–2009) and wearing the dog tags of famed Viper pilot, Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. Samantha previously appeared as a speaker at FedCon in 2018 and also took part in a 2020 episode of the Space Rocks Uplink vodcast with Katee Sackhoff, who played Starbuck in the series.

While we may not yet have invented a faster-than-light drive as used in Battlestar Galactica, ESA turns science fiction into science fact every day, exploring and studying the near-Earth environment, the Solar System, and the Universe beyond, to innovate, inform, and inspire. And we're always happy to share that excitement with our friends around the world, through events like FedCon and much more.

ESA’s Izaña-1 laser ranging station

Perched on the slopes of Tenerife’s Mount Teide, ESA’s latest tracking station is focused on the challenge of space debris. Instead of radio waves, the IZN Laser Ranging Station relies on laser light. Its laser pulses probe hundreds of kilometres into space, making contact with items of debris as well as intact satellites, fixing their position down to a matter of centimetres. Built for ESA by German company DiGoS, this new station is operated as part of ESA’s Space Safety programme, protecting life and infrastructure on Earth and in orbit. The station also serves as a technology testbed for new techniques in optical communication, space traffic control and laser momentum transfer, in which lasers apply enough force to nudge debris objects into new orbits, out of the way of potential collisions and out of the busiest orbital highways.

XROOTS plant check

XROOTS plant check

Cygnus departure from Space Station

Cygnus departure from Space Station

The Fingertip Galaxy: Reflecting Euclid in art

“After Euclid’s lifetime, it will just be floating in space. What if future beings found Euclid? How would they know anything about the humanity of the people?” – Tom Kitching, lead scientist of Euclid’s VIS instrument.

The team behind ESA’s Euclid mission has come together to create something special – a personal and collective galaxy-shaped fingerprint painting that has been attached to the spacecraft ready to launch into space. The collaborative nature of the artwork reflects the collaborative nature of the Euclid project overall; in both cases, people have come together to build something unique.

The Fingertip Galaxy was created by visual artist Lisa Pettibone and Euclid instrument scientist Tom Kitching. Since the very first fingerprint was pressed down in 2019, over 250 scientists and engineers have contributed to the piece of art.

So why a galaxy? Euclid is a galaxy-imaging machine that will observe billions of galaxies out to 10 billion light-years to make a 3D map of the Universe. The mission’s ultimate aim is to explore dark matter and dark energy.

“Although Euclid has always been beautiful in concept and materials, it didn’t really say anything about the people involved and humanity as a whole. We asked ourselves whether we could do something artistic that would speak to people,” says Lisa.

Scientists and engineers involved in Euclid were invited to dip their fingertips in paint and make their mark on a large piece of paper.

“We wanted something authentic, not perfect, and not shaped too much,” continues Lisa. “The result is a piece of art with a wonderful energy to it that captures all the energy of the people involved.”

The artwork was photographed and engraved onto a plaque using lasers at Mullard Space Science Laboratory – the same lasers that are used to etch parts for satellites. The plaque was fixed to Euclid and revealed at a ‘Goodbye Euclid’ event on 1 July 2022, when Euclid left Thales Alenia Space in Turin to head to Cannes for final testing as a complete system.

Euclid’s project scientist René Laureijs suggested adding text to the plaque to explain the thoughts behind it. Continuing the artistic nature of the project, poet Simon Barraclough wrote a dedicated poem, from which a short extract was chosen to be etched on to the plaque in a typewriter font that swirls around the galaxy of fingerprints. This video ends with Simon reading part of Since his poem.

Lisa summarises the Fingertip Galaxy: “It is adding an element of humanity to a dark, vast space, where as far as we can see there is no other intelligent life.”

Credit:

Filmmaker/composer: Sam Charlesworth

Fingertip Galaxy creators: Tom Kitching and Lisa Pettibone

Poet: Simon Barraclough – ‘Unextraordinary Light (For Euclid)’

Special thanks: ESA, Euclid mission team, Mullard Space Science Laboratory

Additional media: NASA, @jeremyperkins from unsplash.com

Earth from Space: Patagonia

This week's edition  of the Earth from Space programme features an impressive, wide-angled view of Patagonia and the Falkland Islands, captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission.
See also Patagonia to download the image.

ESA counts down to Asteroid Day with news on riskiest asteroid

Will we find 2021 QM1 before it finds us?

Space quartet

Space quartet

Inflight call with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti

An educational in-flight call with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on board the International Space Station for teachers and students in Europe, connecting live with local events organised by ESERO Italy, ESERO Portugal and ESERO Luxembourg.

Sunny Italy

Sunny Italy

Surface avatar

Surface avatar

Earth's oceans

Earth's oceans

Moonrise

Photo captured by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from onboard the International Space Station showing the Moon rising above the colours of the imminent sunrise.

Samantha returned to the International Space Station for her second mission, Minerva, on 27 April 2022. She was launched in a new SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule called Freedom alongside her Crew-4 crew mates.

More information about the Minerva mission: https://www.esa.int/minerva 

Post-flight interview with Matthias Maurer | Cosmic Kiss

Interview with ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer after the conclusion of his 177-day mission on the International Space Station. During his time in orbit, Matthias supported over 35 European experiments and even more international experiments on board. The outcomes of these experiments will advance our knowledge in areas ranging from human health to materials science, benefiting life on Earth and the future of space exploration. Other highlights included his spacewalk to improve and maintain the Space Station. More about the Cosmic Kiss mission: https://www.esa.int/cosmickiss

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