ESA

Your Sunday Space Surprise: Philae is alive!

Your Sunday Space Surprise: Philae is alive!

Scientists at the European Space Agency have had a Sunday surprise, with the plucky Philae lander unexpectedly waking up after over half a year of hibernation. The probe landed on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014, but celebrations quickly soured when the ESA team realized its positioning would leave it short on sunlight for its solar panels. After around 60 hours of operation, Philae shut down and left the scientists uncertain whether it would be heard from again.

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ESA Mars Explorer images shows effects of wind on Mars

ESA Mars Explorer images shows effects of wind on Mars

We all see the effect of the wind here on Earth every day. Winds can be mild breezes that shake the leaves up to gales that can topple trees and destroy homes. On Mars, the winds can be much the same as they are here on Earth and the ESA has released a new image that shows a bit of what the wind on Mars does to the surface of the red planet.

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ESA offers video tour of ISS toilet

ESA offers video tour of ISS toilet

Living in space aboard the ISS certainly poses a myriad of challenges to the astronauts that live there for months at a time. Those challenges include the fact that all the air you breathe, water you drink, and food you eat has to be brought up from Earth aboard rockets. Unfortunately, over the last few years several of these rockets have failed to make it to the ISS as intended.

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Black hole’s bad breath could hamper the heavens

Black hole’s bad breath could hamper the heavens

One supermassive black hole's blasting winds could have major effects on the growth of stars in its host galaxy. NASA and the ESA have both observed winds being blown out of a black hole called PDS 456. Using NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the ESA’s XMM-Newton telescope, scientists like Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have been able to begin calculations of the power of this and other black holes in the near future. With great power comes the supreme ability to slow down the speed at which stars age.

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Rosetta comet photos: up close and personal with 67P

Rosetta comet photos: up close and personal with 67P

Less than 9 kilometers from the surface of a comet, Rosetta is taking photos for us humans to see. While we've yet to hear from Philae since shortly after it landed, Rosetta's still in full operation. Taking photos from just about as close to the surface as the craft is going to get, our first glimpses from above the surface of this comet are coming in now. These aren't the first views we've gotten of the rock - we got some photos from Philae, after all - but they are the largest and most impressive.

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Watch the ESA’s car-sized shuttle take off

Watch the ESA’s car-sized shuttle take off

This week the European Space Agency's Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) took off on a Vega rocket. This takeoff sequence was done at the European Spaceport in French Guiana on Wednesday (February 11th) at 8:40 a.m. EST (1340 GMT). This craft was a prototype for a reusable orbiter, prepared to move passengers into space in the future. Below you'll be able to watch this spacecraft take off successfully, heading 340 km into space not long after its initial launch earlier this morning. This system precedes a program called PRIDE: Program for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator for Europe.

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Philae isn’t lost just yet

Philae isn’t lost just yet

While the European Space Agency (ESA) lost contact with their comet lander Philae in November, "there is good confidence" they'll be able to make contact once more. So says Stephan Ulamec, lander manager at the German Space Agency (DLR). Ulamec also warned that should the ESA get in contact with Philae via Rosetta, "it may be that they only get very limited periods of operation in the [dark] pocket, and they will have to plan for more modest science sequences." If Philae is able to reach out to Rosetta, that is.

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Rosetta hunt for Philae weighed against science sacrifice

Rosetta hunt for Philae weighed against science sacrifice

The Rosetta comet probe mission may not have gone entirely to plan, but the science is still pouring out - not to mention water from the comet itself - as the ESA considers hunting down the stalled lander. Triumph at getting the Philae lander to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014 turned to frustration when a less-than-perfect touchdown left the probe short on sunlight and prematurely powered-down. Now, the European Space Agency is considering using the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft to go on a Philae hunt, but there's a price to be paid in potential future research.

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Philae comet lander goes to sleep as batteries near end

Philae comet lander goes to sleep as batteries near end

The Philae comet lander has gone into a sleep mode after being unable to get enough sunlight to recharge its batteries, the European Space Agency has reported. This follows a hiccup with landing that caused Philae to bounce off the comet's surface and eventually land elsewhere, with its final resting place being a position where it isn't able to get adequate sunlight. A ray of hope remains, however, as the mission controllers were able to rotate Philae enough before going idle that it may get more sunlight than previously available.

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Rosetta’s lander may be fading, but its photos are incredible

Rosetta’s lander may be fading, but its photos are incredible

Philae may be lost somewhere on Comet 67P, rapidly running out of power, and yet to tie itself down safely, but that's not stopping the Rosetta mission from sending back some incredible photos of the hurtling space rock. Images captured both by the lander itself and the Rosetta rocket that delivered it to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko - and is currently orbiting it as a radio lifeline back to Earth - show the incredible surface both from close orbit and from Philae's unexpectedly awkward current resting place, though how much longer the probe will be able to send back footage is unclear.

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Philae future in question as comet lander battery dwindles

Philae future in question as comet lander battery dwindles

The Philae lander that traveled 3.98 million miles to land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenkohas is now frantically attempting as much scientific research as it can, with the ESA concerned that its batteries could die in less than a day. The European Space Agency planned to run Philae, its Rosetta mission probe to a comet hurtling 80,000 mph through space, through until March 2015, investigating how the icy space rock was affected by the sun as it travels in the solar system, but an awkward landing - or, more accurately, three landings - has left the future of the experiment in question.

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Rosetta lander sends comet postcard (but there’s a problem)

Rosetta lander sends comet postcard (but there’s a problem)

As unusual views of space go, the surface of a comet rushing more than 80,000 mph through the universe from a tiny lander perched on its surface ranks pretty high on the list. That's just what the European Space Agency's Philae lander has beamed back to Earth - via the Rosetta spaceship it hitched a ride to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenkohas on - after successfully landing on the rocky surface yesterday. It's the incredible culmination of a decade-long journey and a seven hour descent; problem is, while the view might be dramatic, it's also threatening Philae's long-term survival.

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