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ESA Top News
Updated: 2 days 11 hours ago

New Copernicus satellite to monitor sea-level rise launched

Sat, 21/11/2020 - 18:49

The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite has been launched into orbit around Earth on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Using the latest radar altimetry technology, this new satellite is set to  provide a new overview of ocean topography and advance the long-term record of sea-surface height measurements that began in 1992 – measurements that are essential for climate science, for policy-making and, ultimately, for protecting the lives of millions at risk of sea-level rise.

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Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich liftoff replay

Sat, 21/11/2020 - 18:30
Video: 00:02:00

Watch the replay of Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich lifting off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US, on 21 November 2020. Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is the first of two identical satellites to provide critical measurements of sea-level change. This latest Copernicus satellite will continue the long-term record of reference measurements, extending the record of sea-level height into a fourth decade. Mapping 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days, it will also provide crucial operational data for ocean forecasting.

The Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission is a true example of international cooperation. While Sentinel-6 is one of the European Union’s family of Copernicus missions, its implementation is the result of the unique collaboration between ESA, NASA, Eumetsat and NOAA, with contribution from the French space agency CNES.

Read more about the Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission.

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Copernicus Sentinel-6 lifts off

Sat, 21/11/2020 - 17:30
Image: The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite lifts off on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Launch Complex at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US.
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Sea-level monitoring satellite in position for liftoff

Sat, 21/11/2020 - 10:48

With liftoff set for today at 17:17 GMT (18:17 CET, 09:17 PST), the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is poised for liftoff – atop a Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US.

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Week in images: 16-20 November 2020

Fri, 20/11/2020 - 14:13

Week in images: 16-20 November 2020

Discover our week through the lens

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Tenth EU/ESA Space Council

Fri, 20/11/2020 - 14:00

The 10th high-level EU/ESA Space Council took place on Friday 20 November 2020 with the topic ‘Orientations on the European contribution in establishing key principles for the global space economy’.

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Mission control ready for Sentinel liftoff

Fri, 20/11/2020 - 10:56
Image: After countless simulations and a dress rehearsal, ESA's flight control team are ready for liftoff
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Team talk: 10 things about Copernicus Sentinel-6

Fri, 20/11/2020 - 10:50

On Saturday 21 November, the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will launch from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Learn more about how the satellite will measure sea-surface height with greater precision than ever before through this series of soundbites from ESA experts and spokespeople.

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Earth from Space: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Fri, 20/11/2020 - 09:00
Video: 00:03:23

In this week's edition of the Earth from Space programme, Copernicus Sentinel-2 takes us over the Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, US, where the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will soon launch from.
See also Vandenberg Air Force Base, California to download the image.

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Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Fri, 20/11/2020 - 09:00
Image: This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image features the Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, where the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will soon launch from.
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Learn about sea-level rise and Copernicus Sentinel-6

Thu, 19/11/2020 - 10:30
Video: 00:03:44

Learn how climate change is causing our seas to rise and how satellites have been measuring the height of the sea surface systematically since 1992. With global sea level now rising fast, Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich picks up the baton as the latest satellite mission to extend the legacy of sea-surface height measurements. Learn how it makes these critical measurements.

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Creating chaos: Craters and collapse on Mars

Thu, 19/11/2020 - 10:00

Elevation can be deceiving in satellite imagery of Mars, even when differences are extreme – as demonstrated by this image of Pyrrhae Regio from ESA’s Mars Express. A chunk of terrain has collapsed and dropped more than four kilometres below its surroundings, illustrating the incredible contrast and dynamism seen across the martian surface.

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ESA ground stations support Moon missions

Thu, 19/11/2020 - 07:23

Today, ESA’s ground stations are helping fetch rocks from the lunar surface; tomorrow, they will enable new missions that will make the Moon a routine destination.

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Looking at solutions

Wed, 18/11/2020 - 15:37

What resembles a donut or the iris of an eye is actually a liquid cell illuminated from below.

Part of the Chemo-Hydrodynamic Patterns and Instabilities (CHYPI) experiment that recently flew on the 73rd ESA parabolic flight campaign, this cell has a lot to offer the chemical solutions industry.

Researchers behind CHYPI are seeking to validate a theoretical model, developed by Anne De Wit and her team at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, to control the formation of new chemical products.

To do this, they needed to understand the flow reactions of chemical liquids in gravity and microgravity conditions, so they took to the skies for an extraordinary parabolic flight campaign that was adjusted to covid-19 safety measures.  

The science team from Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and TU Dresden mixed two reactant solutions in a liquid cell, creating a red-brown ferric thiocyanate solution. They found, that under gravity, the new product exhibits the patterned stripes imaged above, due to the flow of liquid. When gravity was ‘switched off’ for roughly 20 seconds as the Air Zero G airplane flew the curve of its parabola, the stripes were not present.

“We now understand better how the patterns in the product zone form: The dark stripes appear and disappear by switching on and off gravity during the parabolas,” explains principal investigator Karin Schwarzenberger.

Improving the manufacturing of reactant solutions is of interest to the chemical solutions industry, which collaborates with this investigation. Soil remediation efforts would benefit from solutions that enable contaminated soil to be sealed off from surrounding ground water, for instance.

ESA’s parabolic flight campaign was the first step for the project, allowing researchers to validate their experiment set up ahead of a longer duration study on the TEXUS-57 sounding rocket in April 2021.  

Overall, the parabolic flight campaign was a success for all involved, despite the adjustments required to enable it to take place, such as changing location from France to Germany. Participants needed to show a negative Covid-19 PCR prior to coming to Germany, and once there had to take their temperatures regularly, observe strict social distancing in the large preparation hangar, and wear a mask at all times. This year’s campaign also featured a limited number of experimenters on the aircraft and adaptations to the aircraft seating arrangement.

The larger science team behind CHYPI also includes researchers from the University of Szeged, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse and University of Sassari. 

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Watch live: Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich launch

Wed, 18/11/2020 - 11:18

Watch the launch of the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ocean-monitoring satellite on ESA Web TV on Saturday 21 November from 17:45 CET (08:45 PST).

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ExoMars parachute testing moves forward

Wed, 18/11/2020 - 10:00

The parachute system that will help deliver the Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover to Mars has completed the first full-scale high altitude drop test with redesigned elements following two unsuccessful tests last year. Parachute extraction and deceleration proceeded as expected, the test vehicle landed safely and the test parachutes were recovered. However, some canopy damage occurred, pointing to the early inflation process for the focus of further improvements.

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Space opera

Wed, 18/11/2020 - 09:28
Image: Space opera
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Vega flight VV17 failure: Arianespace and ESA appoint an independent Inquiry Commission

Tue, 17/11/2020 - 17:21

Press Release N° 23–2020

On Tuesday 17 November, Arianespace announced the loss of the Vega VV17 mission, carrying two payloads: SEOSAT-Ingenio for ESA and TARANIS for the French space agency, CNES.

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How can space help to improve air quality?

Tue, 17/11/2020 - 15:29

Innovative solutions to tackle urban air pollution will be explored at an online seminar to be held on Thursday 19 November.

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ESA engineers assess Moon Village habitat

Tue, 17/11/2020 - 10:54

Renowned architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, originator of many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, has been working on an even more challenging design: a habitat for a future Moon Village. Their proposal has undergone rigorous examination by ESA experts at the Agency’s mission-evaluating Concurrent Design Facility.

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