ESA News 2015


ESA confirms James Webb telescope Ariane launch

17 December 2015: The next great space observatory took a step closer this week when ESA signed the contract with Arianespace that will see the James Webb Space Telescope launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou in October 2018.


Euclid dark Universe mission ready to take shape

Artist's impression of Euclid

17 December 2015: Euclid, ESA's dark Universe mission, has passed its preliminary design review, providing confidence that the spacecraft and its payload can be built. It's time to start 'cutting metal'.


Ride along with Rosetta through the eyes of OSIRIS

11 December 2015: Rosetta's OSIRIS camera team has launched a new website to showcase their recent images of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.


LISA Pathfinder en route to gravitational wave demonstration

3 December 2015: ESA's LISA Pathfinder lifted off earlier today on a Vega rocket from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on its way to demonstrate technology for observing gravitational waves from space.


Cosmic filaments exposed near huge cluster

Galaxy Cluster Abell 2744

2 December 2015: ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory has revealed three massive filaments of hot gas flowing towards a cluster of galaxies, uncovering a portion of the cosmic skeleton that pervades the entire Universe.


SOHO celebrates 20 years of discoveries

2 December 2015: Originally planned for a two-year mission, the ESA–NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, SOHO, is today celebrating two decades of scientific discovery.


European payload selected for ExoMars 2018 surface platform

27 November 2015: Two European instruments and four European contributions on two Russian instruments have been selected for the Russian-led science platform that will land on Mars as part of the ESA–Roscosmos ExoMars 2018 mission.


ExoMars prepares to leave Europe for launch site

25 November 2015: The two ExoMars spacecraft of the 2016 mission are being prepared for shipping to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan ahead of their launch in March.


Call for media: LISA Pathfinder launch

24 November 2015: LISA Pathfinder, ESA's technology demonstrator for detecting gravitational-waves, is set for launch on 2 December at 04:15 GMT (05:15 CET) on a Vega rocket from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Media representatives can follow the launch online and attend the event in ESA's operations centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany.


A witness to a wet early Mars

19 November 2015: Vast volumes of water once flooded through this deep chasm on Mars that connects the 'Grand Canyon' of the Solar System – Valles Marineris – to the planet's northern lowlands.


Rosetta and Philae one year since landing on a comet


 12 November 2015: One year since Philae made its historic landing on a comet, mission teams remain hopeful for renewed contact with the lander, while also looking ahead to next year's grand finale: making a controlled impact of the Rosetta orbiter on the comet.


First detection of molecular oxygen at a comet

28 October 2015: ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has made the first in situ detection of oxygen molecules outgassing from a comet, a surprising observation that suggests they were incorporated into the comet during its formation.


Landing site recommended for ExoMars 2018

21 October 2015: Oxia Planum has been recommended as the primary candidate for the landing site of the ExoMars 2018 mission.


Flash floods in Mangala Valles

15 October 2015: Catastrophic flooding triggered by ice melting from the heat of volcanic activity is thought to be responsible for the chaotic scenery depicted in this region of the Mangala Valles channel network.


How Rosetta´s comet got its shape

28 September 2015: Two comets collided at low speed in the early Solar System to give rise to the distinctive 'rubber duck' shape of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, say Rosetta scientists.


Rosetta reveals comet´s water-ice cycle

23 September 2015: ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has provided evidence for a daily water-ice cycle on and near the surface of comets.


Sweeping over the south pole of Mars

10 September 2015: An unusual observation by Mars Express shows a sweeping view over the planet's south polar ice cap and across its ancient, cratered highlands.


LISA Pathfinder set for launch site

1 September 2015: LISA Pathfinder, ESA's demonstrator for spaceborne observations of gravitational waves, is ready to leave for Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.


Gaias first year of scientific observations

25 August 2015: Last Friday, 21 August, ESA's billion-star surveyor, Gaia, completed its first year of science observations in its main survey mode.


ESO and ESA Directors General sign Cooperation Agreement

24 August 2015: On 20 August 2015 the Director General of ESO, Tim de Zeeuw, and the Director General of ESA, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, signed a cooperation agreement between the two organisations at ESO's offices in Santiago, Chile. The ESA Director General was accompanied by Álvaro Giménez, Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at ESA, and Fabio Favata, Head of the ESA Programme Coordination Office.


The tumultuous heart of our Galaxy

20 August 2015: This new image of powerful remnants of dead stars and their mighty action on the surrounding gas from ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory reveals some of the most intense processes taking place at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way.


Call for Media: LISA Pathfinder leaving for launch site

20 August 2015: Slated for launch by Vega in November, ESA's gravitational-wave detection technology demonstrator is ready to begin launch preparations in September at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.


Rosettas big day in the sun

13 August 2015: ESA's Rosetta today witnessed Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko making its closest approach to the Sun. The exact moment of perihelion occurred at 02:03 GMT this morning when the comet came within 186 million km of the Sun.


Comet´s firework display ahead of perihelion

11 August 2015: In the approach to perihelion over the past few weeks, Rosetta has been witnessing growing activity from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, with one dramatic outburst event proving so powerful that it even pushed away the incoming solar wind.


Celebrating a year of the comet

6 August 2015: ESA's Rosetta mission today celebrates one year at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, with its closest approach to the Sun now just one week away.


Science on the surface of a comet

30 July 2015: Complex molecules that could be key building blocks of life, the daily rise and fall of temperature, and an assessment of the surface properties and internal structure of the comet are just some of the highlights of the first scientific analysis of the data returned by Rosetta's lander Philae last November.


Preparing to build ESA´s Jupiter Mission

17 July 2015: Airbus Defence & Space in France has been selected as the prime industrial contractor for ESA's Juice mission to Jupiter and its icy moons.


Rosetta preparing for Perihelion

13 July 2015: Rosetta's investigations of its comet are continuing as the mission teams count down the last month to perihelion – the closest point to the Sun along the comet's orbit – when the comet's activity is expected to be at its highest.


Cutting through martian history

9 July 2015: This colourful image resembles an abstract watercolour, but it is in fact a colour-coded topographic map of one of the most geologically diverse regions on Mars.


Counting stars with Gaia

3 July 2015: This image, based on housekeeping data from ESA's Gaia satellite, is no ordinary depiction of the heavens. While the image portrays the outline of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, and of its neighbouring Magellanic Clouds, it was obtained in a rather unusual way.


Monster black hole wakes up after 26 years

25 June 2015: Over the past week, ESA's Integral satellite has been observing an exceptional outburst of high-energy light produced by a black hole that is devouring material from its stellar companion.


Exposed water ice detected on comet's surface

24 June 2015: Using the high-resolution science camera on board ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, scientists have identified more than a hundred patches of water ice a few metres in size on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.


Rosetta mission extended

23 June 2015: The adventure continues: ESA today confirmed that its Rosetta mission will be extended until the end of September 2016, at which point the spacecraft will most likely be landed on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.


CDF Studies three candidates for ESA's next medium-class science mission

23 June 2015: Exoplanets, plasma physics and the X-ray Universe are the topics chosen by ESA to be considered for the fourth medium-class mission in its Cosmic Vision science programme, for launch in 2025 and like all the previously proposed Cosmic Vision missions,...


Second Copernicus environmental satellite safely in orbit

23 June 2015: The ESA-developed Sentinel satellite – Sentinel-2A – was launched today, adding a high-resolution optical imaging capability to the European Union Copernicus environmental monitoring system.


Magnetic complexity begins to untangle

22 June 2015: After a year in orbit, the three Swarm satellites have provided a first glimpse inside Earth and started to shed new light on the dynamics of the upper atmosphere – all the way from the ionosphere about 100 km above, through to the outer reaches of our protective magnetic shield.


Europe teams up for next-gen mission control software

Software coordinator in ESOC's Main Control Room

22 June 2015: Together with national space agencies and industry, ESA is working to develop next-generation software for spacecraft control and monitoring. The initiative is a strategic and technological jump, and will see most space organisations in Europe adopting a common infrastructure, which will improve efficiency, lower technical risk and deliver a major boost to European industrial competitiveness.


Sentinel-2 launch timeline

19 June 2015: On 23 June, a Vega launcher will loft the first of ESA's dual Sentinel-2 satellites into orbit from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou. For the mission control team, liftoff will mark the end of many months of careful preparations and the start of the mission's first critical phase.


Hot lava flows discovered on Venus

18 June 2015: ESA's Venus Express has found the best evidence yet for active volcanism on Earth's neighbour planet.


Dissolving Titan

17 June 2015: Saturn's moon Titan is home to seas and lakes filled with liquid hydrocarbons, but what makes the depressions they lie in? A new study suggests that the moon's surface dissolves in a similar process that creates sinkholes on Earth.