09 Apr 2020

Zoom past Earth with BepiColombo in virtual reality simulation


Video:
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With a simple Google Cardboard-style virtual reality (VR) viewer, you can experience how it feels to be a spacecraft hurtling past Earth. This 360-degree VR simulation of a flyby manoeuvre performed by ESA’s Mercury-bound BepiColombo spacecraft takes you on a trip past Earth at the distance of only 12 700 km, closer than the orbit of Europe’s navigational satellites Galileo.

The simulation displays the field of view of two of BepiColombo’s science instruments (MERTIS and PHEBUS) and two of its three MCAM selfie cameras during the gravity-assist flyby at Earth on 10 April 2020.

The simulation was created using the SPICE software developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and data generated by the European Space and Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Spain.

BepiColombo, a joint mission of ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is on a seven-year cruise to Mercury, the smallest and innermost planet of the Solar System. Launched in October 2018, BepiColombo follows an intricate trajectory that involves nine gravity-assist flyby manoeuvres. In addition to the flyby at Earth, BepiColombo will perform two flybys at Venus and six at Mercury, its target planet. The manoeuvres slow down the spacecraft as it needs to constantly brake against the gravitational pull of the Sun in order to be able to enter the correct orbit around Mercury in 2025, ahead of commencing science operations in early 2026.

Source: ESA news

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08 Apr 2020

CryoSat still cool at 10

ESA's ice mission

Today marks 10 years since a Dnepr rocket blasted off from an underground silo in the remote desert steppe of Kazakhstan, launching one of ESA’s most remarkable Earth-observing satellites into orbit. Tucked safely within the rocket fairing, CryoSat had a tough job ahead: to measure variations in the height of Earth’s ice and reveal how climate change is affecting the polar regions. Carrying novel technology, this extraordinary mission has led to a wealth of scientific discoveries that go far beyond its primary objectives to measure polar ice. And, even at 10 years old, this incredible mission continues to surpass expectations.

Source: ESA news

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08 Apr 2020
08 Apr 2020
07 Apr 2020
06 Apr 2020

Unusual ozone hole opens over the Arctic

Scientists using data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite have noticed a strong reduction of ozone concentrations over the Arctic. Unusual atmospheric conditions, including freezing temperatures in the stratosphere, have led ozone levels to plummet – causing a ‘mini-hole’ in the ozone layer.

Source: ESA news

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03 Apr 2020

Spot BepiColombo during its ‘goodbye flyby’

BepiColombo Earth flyby

On 10 April, BepiColombo will be visible to amateur and professional astronomers during its first – and only – Earth flyby, as the spacecraft makes its way to Mercury, the innermost planet of the Solar System. The best place to spot it is the southern hemisphere, but observers in southern locations of the northern hemisphere might also catch a parting view of the spacecraft.

Source: ESA news

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03 Apr 2020
03 Apr 2020
03 Apr 2020

Choosing rocks on Mars to bring to Earth

Mars landscape

If you could bring something back from Mars to Earth, what would you choose? This question is becoming reality, as ESA opens a call for scientists to join a NASA team working to determine which martian samples should be collected and stored by the Perseverance rover set to launch this Summer.

Source: ESA news

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