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ESA Top News
Updated: 5 hours 52 min ago

Did you always want to be an astronaut?

Wed, 12/05/2021 - 20:04
Video: 00:09:36

This video summarises advice given by ESA astronauts during the ESA Astronaut Careers Fair on 22 April 2021. Samantha Cristoforetti, Thomas Reiter and André Kuipers have all flown in space as ESA astronauts and offer their perspectives on the selection process and the work and life of an astronaut. See the astronaut vacancy notice and other opportunities to work at ESA at

Further information on the astronaut selection may be found in the Astronaut Applicant Handbook and in the astronaut selection FAQs. If your question is not answered in these documents, you have the option to email

Applications will be accepted until 28 May 2021.

Categories: News in English

ESA's technical heart

Wed, 12/05/2021 - 10:29
Image: ESA's technical heart
Categories: News in English

Webb’s golden mirror wings open one last time on Earth

Wed, 12/05/2021 - 07:51

The world’s most powerful space science telescope has opened its primary mirror for the last time on Earth.

As part of the international James Webb Space Telescope’s final tests, the 6.5 meter (21 feet 4 inch) mirror was commanded to fully expand and lock itself into place, just like it would in space. The conclusion of this test represents the team’s final checkpoint in a long series of tests designed to ensure Webb’s 18 hexagonal mirrors are prepared for a long journey in space, and a life of profound discovery. After this, all of Webb’s many movable parts will have confirmed in testing that they can perform their intended operations after being exposed to the expected launch environment.

Making the testing conditions close to what Webb will experience in space helps to ensure the observatory is fully prepared for its science mission one million miles away from Earth.

Commands to unlatch and deploy the side panels of the mirror were relayed from Webb’s testing control room at Northrop Grumman, in Redondo Beach, California. The software instructions sent, and the mechanisms that operated are the same as those used in space. Special gravity offsetting equipment was attached to Webb to simulate the zero-gravity environment in which its complex mechanisms will operate. All of the final thermal blanketing and innovative shielding designed to protect its mirrors and instruments from interference were in place during testing.

Read more.

Webb is an international partnership between NASA, ESA and CSA. The telescope will launch on an Ariane 5 from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

Categories: News in English

How to keep spacesuit ‘underwear’ clean?

Wed, 12/05/2021 - 07:35

Spacewalking is a major highlight of any astronaut’s career. But there is a downside: putting on your spacesuit means sharing some previously-worn underlayers. A new ESA study is looking into how best to keep these items clean and hygienic as humans venture on to the Moon and beyond.

Categories: News in English

Week in images: 03 - 07 May 2021

Fri, 07/05/2021 - 14:13

Week in images: 03 - 07 May 2021

Discover our week through the lens

Categories: News in English

Higher Power in space | Thomas Pesquet & Coldplay

Fri, 07/05/2021 - 11:00
Video: 00:06:56

To celebrate the premiere of Coldplay's latest single 'Higher Power’, the band linked up for an extraterrestrial video chat with French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who is currently on a six-month mission on board the International Space Station. A specially recorded performance of Higher Power - featuring dancing alien holograms - was beamed up to Thomas, who gave the track its very first play on board the Station. The song’s premiere followed a conversation which took in similarities between life on tour and life on the Space Station, how planet Earth looks from space and its fragility; and how Thomas listens to music in microgravity.

Categories: News in English

Earth from Space: Morbihan, France

Fri, 07/05/2021 - 09:00

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Morbihan – a French department in the south of Brittany.

Categories: News in English

First Ariane 6 fairing at Europe’s Spaceport

Fri, 07/05/2021 - 08:00
Image: First Ariane 6 fairing at Europe’s Spaceport
Categories: News in English

Masked campaign

Thu, 06/05/2021 - 11:32

Researchers take a group photo in front of the Air Zero G aircraft to mark the end of the 75th ESA parabolic flight campaign. The campaign was the third to take place under Covid-19 restrictions, and ran from 21 to 30 April in Bordeaux, France.

Participants and coordinators adjusted to a new way of flying: PCR tests were required to enter France, as well as rapid antigen or RT LAMP tests each day for every participant. Facilities on the ground as well as on board were adapted to allow for social distancing and cleanliness requirements. Surgical masks were worn at all times, and movement was restricted during the flights.

Otherwise, the parabolic flights were business-as-usual. Teams from various research institutes and universities performed experiments and technology demonstrations across many disciplines including complex fluidics, astronomical light scattering, protoplanetary agglomeration, and human physiology in altered states of gravity.

Initially used for training astronauts, parabolic flights are now mostly used for short-duration scientific and technological investigations in reduced gravity. These flights are the only way for humans to run tests in microgravity without going through lengthy astronaut-training and flights to the International Space Station.

To perform each parabola, the refitted A310 Air Zero G aircraft flies close to maximum speed and pulls the nose up to a 45° angle, then cuts the power to fall over the top of the curve. Whilst falling freely the passengers and experiments experience around 20 seconds of microgravity, until the plane is angled 45° nose-down, before pulling out of the dive to level off with normal flight.

These “pull up” and “pull out” manoeuvres before and after the weightless period increase gravity inside the plane up to 2g, but that is just part of the ride, repeated every three minutes for almost two hours.

A typical parabolic flight campaign involves three flights and requires a week of on-site preparation. Each flight offers 31 periods of weightlessness. The aircraft can also fly in arcs that provide lunar or martian gravity levels by adjusting the angle of attack of the wings.

Simplicity of preparation and operations, reduced cost, partial-gravity levels, multiple microgravity phases and opportunity for researchers to work directly on the experiments on board are some of the unique advantages..

Parabolic flights are organised by Novespace, which handles flight and ground operations. ESA, French space agency CNES, and German space agency DLR are the promoters and sponsors of the programme.

Categories: News in English

Juice arrives at ESA’s technical heart

Thu, 06/05/2021 - 09:00

The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, Juice, has come ‘home’ to ESA’s technical centre in the Netherlands to undergo an extreme environment test in Europe’s largest thermal vacuum chamber to prepare for its journey to the outer Solar System.

Categories: News in English

3D printing could be used in search for black holes

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 11:53

An X-ray telescope designed to search for supermassive black holes could be built using a novel 3D-printing technique called plasma metal deposition.

Categories: News in English

Vega-C: power and versatility

Mon, 03/05/2021 - 10:05
Video: 00:05:04

Europe’s new launch vehicle, Vega-C, is near completion. Elements will soon be shipped to Kourou for assembly and preparation for Vega-C’s inaugural flight.

This new launcher improves its Vega predecessor by offering more power and versatility at similar cost. This new design allows Vega-C to transport larger and heavier payloads into space making it a world-class competitor on the global launcher market while ensuring Europe’s independent access to space.

Categories: News in English

Lessons learnt from simulated strike

Fri, 30/04/2021 - 16:33

In an alternate reality playing out at this year’s international Planetary Defense Conference, a fictional asteroid crashes over Europe, 'destroying' a region about 100 km wide near the Czech Republic and German border. The scenario was imagined, but the people who took part are very real, and the lessons learnt will shape our ability to respond to dangerous asteroids for years to come.

Categories: News in English

Lithuania to become ESA Associate Member state

Fri, 30/04/2021 - 15:41

Lithuania signed an Association Agreement with ESA on 28 April 2021.

This Association Agreement between ESA and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, builds on the successful results achieved under the previous frameworks of cooperation and will enter into force for a duration of seven years. Comprising 18 Articles and two Annexes, it orchestrates the strengthening of Lithuania’s relations with ESA.

Categories: News in English

Week in images: 26 - 30 April 2021

Fri, 30/04/2021 - 14:13

Week in images: 26 - 30 April 2021

Discover our week through the lens

Categories: News in English

Glacier avalanches more common than thought

Fri, 30/04/2021 - 10:00

One tends to think of mountain glaciers as slow moving, their gradual passage down a mountainside visible only through a long series of satellite imagery or years of time-lapse photography. However, new research shows that glacier flow can be much more dramatic, ranging from about 10 metres a day to speeds that are more like that of avalanches, with obvious potential dire consequences for those living below.

Categories: News in English

Earth from Space: Antofagasta, Chile

Fri, 30/04/2021 - 09:00

Antofagasta, a port city in northern Chile, is featured in this image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission.

Categories: News in English

Dragon fire

Thu, 29/04/2021 - 15:21

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon spits fire as it lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, 23 April at 05:49 local time. On board are ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

The crew of four spent around 23 hours orbiting Earth and catching up with the International Space Station after their launch before docking to the Node-2 Harmony module, marking the start of ESA’s six-month mission Alpha.

Thomas is the first European to be launched to space on a US spacecraft in over a decade. The new Crew Dragon ships four astronauts at a time, allowing more people to live and work on the International Space Station doing more research for scientists on Earth.

Alpha is Thomas’ second space mission, and everything is set to be bigger and brighter. A Russian laboratory module, scheduled to arrive in the summer with a European robotic arm, will offer more ways of maintaining the International Space Station and supporting spacewalkers as they work outside. Thomas will help set up this arm and prepare it for use during the Alpha mission.

Over 200 international experiments are planned during Thomas’ time in space. Of the 40 European ones, 12 are new experiments led by the French space agency CNES.

At the end of the Alpha mission in October, Thomas will take over commander of the International Space Station for a brief period and welcome ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer on his first flight to space.

Latest updates on the Alpha mission can be found on Twitter @esaspaceflight, with more details on ESA’s exploration blog via

Background information on the Alpha mission is available at with a brochure at

Categories: News in English

ESA to build second deep space dish in Australia

Thu, 29/04/2021 - 13:00
  • ESA, in cooperation with the Australian Space Agency, will construct a new 35-metre, deep space dish antenna at its existing ground station in New Norcia, Western Australia
  • The 620-tonne antenna will help ESA provide crucial communication links to its growing fleet of deep space missions
  • It will be ESA’s second 35-metre antenna at the site and its fourth in total
  • The joint announcement was made during a virtual meeting held between the heads of ESA and the Australian Space Agency on 29 April
Categories: News in English

Vega’s first launch this year

Thu, 29/04/2021 - 07:55

Liftoff of Vega from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana came at 02:50 BST on 29 April (03:50 CEST; 22:50 local time on 28 April) to deliver Pléiades Neo-3 and five auxiliary payloads into their respective orbits.

Categories: News in English