07 May 2021
07 May 2021
07 May 2021

Higher Power in space | Thomas Pesquet & Coldplay


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.

Source: ESA news

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07 May 2021
07 May 2021
06 May 2021

Masked campaign


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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.

Source: ESA news

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06 May 2021
05 May 2021
03 May 2021

Vega-C: power and versatility


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.

Source: ESA news

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30 Apr 2021

Lessons learnt from simulated strike

Fictional impact zone from the 2021 international Planetary Defence Conference

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.

Source: ESA news

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