Jump to content

2023: ESA's year in space

Recommended Posts

2023_ESA_s_year_in_space_card_full.png Video: 00:08:22

2023’s highlight was the highly anticipated launch of Juice, Europe’s Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer. The Juice spacecraft was placed on course to Jupiter on the second-to-last Ariane 5 launch vehicle in April. After an eight-year journey, Juice will begin observing the giant gas planet and its three large ocean-bearing moons – Ganymede, Calisto and Europa.

The Euclid space telescope was launched in July with the aim of unravelling the enigmas of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’. Euclid’s first images were released in November, revealing razor-sharp astronomical images with detail never before seen by a telescope across such a large patch of the sky.

After almost five years in space, ESA’s Aeolus wind mission was retired. This trailblazing mission was tasked with observing wind patterns from space thereby improving weather forecasts and climate models.. Aeolus data and technology will have an important role to play in the accuracy of future weather forecasting. On 28 July, it burned up in an assisted re-entry – the first assisted re-entry by a mission which was not designed to do so.

As space debris becomes an increasingly serious issue, ESA is determined to search for solutions. Together with its commercial and institutional partners, ESA has developed the ‘Zero Debris Charter’, launched this year. By signing the Charter, space entities worldwide can register their intent to work together towards the sustainable use of Earth’s orbital environment.

Earlier in in 2023, MTG-I1, the first of the Meteosat Third Generation missions, sent back its first images. The satellite was launched in 2022 and carries two instruments: a flexible combined imager and a lighting imager. Both instruments performed beyond expectation and a stunning combined image from both was revealed.

Earth observation is key to keeping our planet and the population as a whole, safe. Today, monitoring earthquakes, forest fires or flooding from space already helps to coordinate rescue response but the data can also be used to better understand phenomena such as climate change and support the IPCC climate reports.

Last year, NASA’s Dart mission impacted on a small moonlet of the asteroid Didymos, changing its course. We’ll soon be launching ESA’s Hera spacecraft to collect data on the aftermath of this collision. The Hera spacecraft was integrated and underwent testing this year in ESA ESTEC’s test centre in the Netherlands.

2023 also saw the first hardware tests for the second generation of Galileo satellites but even more importantly the Galileo High Accuracy Service was launched in January. This new service delivers centimetre accuracy from space further cementing Galileo’s reputation as the most accurate satellite navigation system in the world.

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By European Space Agency
      A new collaboration between ESA and Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands has got passengers thinking about space. Digital screens throughout the airport featuring stunning  satellite images of Earth have been stopping travellers in their tracks. That's because these pictures from space are part of a fun Where on Earth? travel quiz.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      2 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      NASA’s Flight Opportunities program sent two university payloads on suborbital flight tests onboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity on June 8 when it launched from Spaceport America in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
      The payloads carrying scientific research from University of California, Berkeley and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, align with critical technology needs that NASA has identified in pursuit of the agency’s space commerce and exploration goals. The payload from UC Berkeley, studied a new type of 3D printing and the payload from Purdue studied how sloshing of liquid propellant affects spacecraft direction.
      The need to print building materials in space without having to transport them will be critical in the coming years as humans live and work in space for longer durations. Optimizing spacecraft and satellite design will help us increase the rate of scientific discoveries both here on our home planet and on the Moon, Mars, and beyond. 
      “Our program enables researchers to move from the lab to flight test rapidly, and in many cases, multiple flight tests across different commercial vehicles. This allows them the invaluable opportunity to learn from initial tests, implement improvements, and then fly again – or as we like to say, ‘fly, fix, fly,’” said Danielle McCulloch, program manager for Flight Opportunities at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.
      Photo credit: Virgin Galactic
      Last Updated Jun 11, 2024 EditorDede DiniusContactSarah Mannsarah.mann@nasa.gov Related Terms
      Armstrong Flight Research Center Flight Opportunities Program Space Technology Mission Directorate Explore More
      2 min read Food Safety Program for Space Has Taken Over on Earth
      System created for Apollo astronaut food has become the global standard for hazard prevention
      Article 1 day ago 5 min read NASA’s Laser Relay System Sends Pet Imagery to, from Space Station
      Article 5 days ago 1 min read The First Responder UAS Wireless Data Gatherer Challenge
      Article 5 days ago Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
      Armstrong Flight Research Center
      Space Technology Mission Directorate
      STMD Flight Opportunities
      Armstrong Space Projects
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Aurora and airglow are seen from the International Space Station in 2015.Credits: NASA/JSC/ESRS NASA has selected three proposals for concept studies of missions to investigate the complex system of space weather that surrounds our planet and how it’s connected to Earth’s atmosphere.
      The three concepts propose how to enact the DYNAMIC (Dynamical Neutral Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling) mission, which was recommended by the 2013 Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics. The DYNAMIC mission is designed to study how changes in Earth’s lower atmosphere influence our planet’s upper atmosphere, where space weather like auroras and satellite disruptions are manifested. This knowledge will benefit humanity by helping us understand how space weather can interfere with crucial technology like navigation systems and satellites.
      “Earth and space are an interconnected system that reaches from the heart of our solar system, the Sun, to the lowest reaches of the atmosphere where we live and extends to the edge of our heliosphere – the boundary of interstellar space,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “While space weather can spark the beautiful auroras across our skies, it also has the potential to cause disruptions for us here on Earth and can be dangerous for our spacecraft and astronauts in space. The DYNAMIC mission will expand our understanding of how Earth itself shapes space weather events that influence our home planet.”
      The DYNAMIC mission is designed to make measurements within Earth’s upper atmosphere between about 50-125 miles (80-200 kilometers) in altitude. With multiple spacecraft, DYNAMIC’s simultaneous observations from different locations can give scientists a more complete picture of how waves propagate upwards through this part of the atmosphere.
      NASA’s fiscal year 2023 appropriation directed NASA to initiate this first phase of study. As the first step of a two-step selection process, each proposal will receive $2 million for a concept study. NASA solicited missions with a cost cap of $250 million, which does not include the launch. The studies will last nine months.
      The selected concept teams are:
      University of Colorado, Boulder, led by principal investigator Tomoko Matsuo Key partners include Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California; and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Haystack Observatory in Westford, Massachusetts.
      University of Colorado, Boulder, led by principal investigator Aimee Merkel Key partners include BAE Systems in Westminster, Colorado, and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington.
      Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, led by principal investigator Scott Bailey Key partners include Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, Global Atmospheric Technologies and Sciences in Newport News, Virginia, and Computational Physics, Inc. in Boulder, Colorado.
      For more information on NASA heliophysics missions, visit:
      Karen Fox
      Headquarters, Washington
      Sarah Frazier
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
      Last Updated Jun 11, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
      Space Weather Earth's Atmosphere Heliophysics Science & Research Science Mission Directorate View the full article
    • By NASA
      5 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      This visualization shows monthly global surface temperatures from 1880 to May 2024. The last 12 months (June 2023 through May 2024) hit record highs for each respective month. Download this visualization from NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio: https://svsdev.gsfc.nasa.gov/5311NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio May 2024 was the warmest May on the books, marking a full year of record-high monthly temperatures, NASA scientists found. Average global temperatures for the past 12 months hit record highs for each respective month – an unprecedented streak – according to scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
      “It’s clear we are facing a climate crisis,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Communities across America—like Arizona, California, Nevada—and communities across the globe are feeling first-hand extreme heat in unprecedented numbers. NASA and the Biden-Harris Administration recognize the urgency of protecting our home planet. We are providing critical climate data to better lives and livelihoods, and benefit all humanity.”
      The run of record temperatures fits within a long-term warming trend driven by human activity — primarily greenhouse gas emissions. The trend has become evident over the past four decades, with the last 10 consecutive years being the warmest 10 since record-keeping began in the late 19th century. Before this streak of 12 straight months of record temperatures, the second longest streak lasted for seven months between 2015 and 2016.
      “It’s clear we are facing a climate crisis. Communities across America—like Arizona, California, Nevada—and communities across the globe are feeling first-hand extreme heat in unprecedented numbers.
      Bill Nelson
      NASA Administrator Bill Nelson
      “We’re experiencing more hot days, more hot months, more hot years,” said Kate Calvin, NASA’s chief scientist and senior climate advisor. “We know that these increases in temperature are driven by our greenhouse gas emissions and are impacting people and ecosystems around the world.”
      In NASA’s analysis, a temperature baseline is defined by several decades or more – typically 30 years. The average global temperature over the past 12 months was 2.34 degrees Fahrenheit (1.30 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century baseline (1951 to 1980). This is slightly over the 2.69 degree Fahrenheit (1.5 degree Celsius) level with respect to the late 19th century average.
      To calculate Earth’s global temperature, NASA scientists gather data from tens of thousands of meteorological stations on land, plus thousands of instruments on ships and buoys on the ocean surface. This raw data is analyzed using methods that account for the varied spacing of temperature stations around the globe and for urban heating effects that could skew the calculations.
      El Niño Subsiding, La Niña Arriving?
      Phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña, which alternately warm and cool the tropical Pacific Ocean, can contribute a small amount of variability in global temperatures from year to year. The strong El Niño that began in spring 2023 helped stoke last year’s extreme summer and fall heat.
      As of May 2024, scientists at the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center projected a 49% chance of La Niña developing between June and August, and a 69% chance of it developing between July and September. By cooling a large swath of the tropical Pacific, a La Niña event could partially suppress average global temperatures this year.
      Dr. Kate Calvin, NASA’s Chief Scientist and Senior Climate Advisor, answers some of the top questions pertaining to these temperature records and our changing climate. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/ Katie Jepson It’s hard to know whether 2024 will set another global heat record. Factors like volcanic eruptions and sun-blocking aerosol emissions can affect our climate in any given year. NASA missions are actively studying these influences, said Gavin Schmidt, director of GISS.
      “There are open questions that can impact our predictions over the next few years and decades, and we’re in evidence-gathering mode,” Schmidt said. “This year may well end up setting another global temperature record. Right now, it’s in line to be close to 2023.”
      Ocean Temperatures and Hurricanes

      Scientists are watching to see how ocean temperatures may influence this year’s hurricane season. Temperatures remained high as the 2024 hurricane and typhoon seasons got underway. Across the Northern Hemisphere, ocean temperatures for the January-April period were 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) above average, according to NOAA. Despite the waning El Niño, temperatures at the sea surface and at deeper depths are still above average in many places, said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

      Willis cited rising carbon dioxide emissions as the main driver of ocean warming. As much as 90% of the excess atmospheric heat in recent decades has been absorbed by the ocean, with much of that heat stored near the water surface.  
      “The ocean is the flywheel of our climate,” Willis said. “Since the ocean covers more than two-thirds of Earth, whatever sea surface temperatures are, the rest of the planet follows.”  
      La Niña years also can contribute to more active Atlantic hurricane seasons. That’s because La Niña conditions weaken westerly winds high in the atmosphere near the Americas, over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Ocean. Wind shear – abrupt changes in wind speed and direction – can cut hurricanes down before they grow. La Niña effectively lifts this brake, allowing tropical storms to form and intensify unimpeded.
      NASA’s full dataset of global surface temperatures, as well as details of how NASA scientists conducted the analysis, are publicly available from GISS, a NASA laboratory managed by the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 
      About the Author
      Sally Younger
      Senior Science Writer
      Last Updated Jun 11, 2024 ContactSally YoungerLocationGoddard Institute for Space Studies Related Terms
      Earth Goddard Institute for Space Studies Goddard Space Flight Center Explore More
      2 min read North Carolina Volunteers Work Toward Cleaner Well Water
      When the ground floods during a storm, floodwaters wash bacteria and other contaminants into private…
      Article 19 hours ago 4 min read Hubble Finds Surprises Around a Star That Erupted 40 Years Ago
      Astronomers have used new data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the retired SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy)…
      Article 20 hours ago 6 min read NASA Watches Mars Light Up During Epic Solar Storm
      Article 23 hours ago Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
      Humans in Space
      Climate Change
      Solar System
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      From navigating the depths of the human mind to exploring the vastness of space, Dr. Alexandra (Sandra) Whitmire helps lead research on the effects of prolonged isolation and confinement as NASA prepares to voyage to the Moon and eventually Mars. 

      Whitmire is the lead scientist for the Human Factors and Behavioral Performance element (HFBP) within NASA’s Human Research Program, or HRP. HFBP selects, supports, and helps design studies for Johnson Space Center’s HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog), which conducts missions simulating isolation and confinement to further understand psychological effects on humans.  

      These studies evaluate how crews work as a team and overcome stressors, bringing to light the potential effects of prolonged isolation on behavioral health. They also help reveal strategies for keeping crew members cohesive and engaged on long-duration missions. With greater workloads, higher stress, and more isolation anticipated in future spaceflight missions, especially with communication delays, this research is crucial. 
      Alexandra Whitmire at a Human Resources swearing-in ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz Strategies that support astronauts’ mental health have been around since the early days of spaceflight, and a strong team at NASA is in place to support the behavioral health of crews on the International Space Station. This team facilitates services such as communication with family, regular provision of crew care packages, and guidance on the optimal use of onboard methods that seek to counter adverse effects of spaceflight. For instance, lighting systems that simulate daytime and nighttime can help maintain circadian rhythms in the dark of deep space. HFBP learns from the astronauts’ current psychological support teams, while also planning a research strategy that aims to maintain this level of care in future missions beyond low Earth orbit.  

      Initially working through KBR as a research coordinator, Whitmire played a key role in establishing NASA’s behavioral health and performance research group in 2006. Over time, this small group advocated for dedicated research facilities, leading to the creation of HERA in 2013 and a Behavioral Health and Performance Laboratory in 2016. HFBP also initiates and oversees studies in Antarctica, and also created and managed studies previously conducted through the Scientific International Research In a Unique terrestrial Station, or SIRIUS, a series of international missions that were held inside a ground-based analog facility in Moscow, Russia. 

      Whitmire’s role now involves managing projects aimed at mitigating risks for future spaceflight. She specializes in fatigue management, performance measurement, and strategies to counter behavioral changes that may result from spaceflight.  

      “My journey to NASA was quite unexpected,” she said. “With a background in psychology and writing, I never imagined I’d find an opportunity working in space exploration.” 
      Whitmire began her career supporting the state of Texas and MD Anderson Cancer Center on organizational development. She joined NASA’s HRP in 2006 as a research coordinator for the Human Health and Performance element. 

      Whitmire completed her bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She then earned her master’s in psychology, with a focus on experimental psychology, from the University of Texas in San Antonio, and years later, while continuing her full-time work with KBR, she completed her doctorate in psychology from Capella University. 
      Katie Koube, a HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog) crew member from Campaign 6 Mission 4, prepares food inside the ground-based habitat. Through HERA missions, HRP conducts studies that seek to evaluate how crew health and performance can be affected by stressors anticipated in future exploration missions.  One example study, led by Dr. Grace Douglas, a food technology scientist at Johnson, explored a restricted food system in which meals were replaced with compact bars. Douglas found that limited food options were associated with reduced eating and caloric intake, as well as decrements in mood, highlighting the importance of an acceptable food system for mental well-being on long duration missions.  

      Another study led by Dr. Leslie DeChurch, a professor of Communication and Psychology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., revealed that teams performed worse on a complex, conceptual task at the end of a mission compared to earlier on, highlighting the need to maintain team cohesion and performance over time. Still more studies seek to evaluate the effects of communications delays of up to five minutes each way between crew and HERA’s mission control, which sits just outside the HERA facility.   

      As NASA prepares to launch the first crewed Artemis missions, HRP’s behavioral health team is also incorporating studies to address Moon-specific challenges. The team is focused on the unique demands of lunar landings, such as high-tempo operations and seconds-long communication delays. The current goal is to increase the fidelity of HERA to future Artemis missions to ensure that more meaningful, operationally-relevant results emerge from future investigations.  
      The HERA Campaign 7 Mission 1 crew members inside the analog environment at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Through these studies, scientists learn valuable lessons about resilience and coping mechanisms that can benefit future space missions. Their findings emphasize the importance of maintaining social connections, adequate work-rest schedules, and opportunities for exercise to support mental health. Being intentional and reflective with gratitude and positive emotions has also shown significant value, Whitmire notes, adding that during her time at NASA, she has learned more about the importance of relationships, communication, and resolving problems together as a team. 

      “Overall, our goal is to ensure that astronauts are well-prepared for and supported through the psychological demands of space exploration. We seek to apply these insights to improve mental health support for everyone,” Whitmire said. “All of us can learn from these crew members in their periods of isolation to get insights on how to live happier, healthier lives here on Earth.” 
      View the full article
  • Check out these Videos

  • Create New...