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ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet returns after an action-packed six months in orbit


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    • By European Space Agency
      The Farnborough International Airshow is set to return for its 76th edition. Held every two years, the UK’s largest trade airshow will be back at the historic Farnborough Airport in Hampshire from 22 to 26 July 2024. ESA will be there to showcase the agency’s latest achievements and to highlight its next steps and future vision for Europe in space. An intense programme of panels and sessions awaits industry professionals and trade visitors on the first four days, while the public is welcome on 26 July for the public day.
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    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Discovery Alert: With Six New Worlds, 5,500 Discovery Milestone Passed!
      NASA’s Exoplanet Archive confirmed four new worlds, bringing the total past 5,500. On Aug. 24, 2023, more than three decades after the first confirmation of planets beyond our own solar system, scientists announced the discovery of six new exoplanets, stretching that number to 5,502. From zero exoplanet confirmations to over 5,500 in just a few decades, this new milestone marks another major step in the journey to understand the worlds beyond our solar system.
      The Discovery
      With the discovery of six new exoplanets, scientists have tipped the scales and surpassed 5,500 exoplanets found (there are now 5,502 known exoplanets, to be exact).
      Just about 31 years ago, in 1992, the first exoplanets were confirmed when scientists detected twin planets Poltergeist and Phobetor orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12. In March 2022, just last year, scientists celebrated passing 5,000 exoplanets discovered.
      Key Facts 
      Scientists have discovered six new exoplanets — HD 36384 b, TOI-198 b, TOI-2095 b, TOI-2095 c, TOI-4860 b, and MWC 758 c — this has pushed the total number of confirmed exoplanets discovered to 5,502.
      Details
      HD 36384 b is a super-Jupiter that orbits an enormous M giant star.
      This planet was discovered using the radial velocity method, which measures the “wobble” of far-off stars that is caused by the gravitational tug of orbiting planets. Orbits a star so large that it clocks in at nearly 40 times the size of our Sun. TOI-198 b is a potentially rocky planet that orbits on the innermost edge of the habitable zone around its star, an M dwarf.
      This planet was discovered using the transit method, which detects exoplanets as they cross the face of their stars in their orbit, causing the star to temporarily dim. TOI-2095 b and TOI-2095 c are both large, hot super-Earths that orbit in the same system around a shared star, an M dwarf.
      Planets were both discovered using the transit method. Are close enough to their star that they are likely more similar to Venus than Earth. TOI-4860 b is a Jupiter-sized gas giant, or a “hot Jupiter,” that orbits an M dwarf star.
      This planet was discovered using the transit method. Completes an orbit every 1.52 days, meaning it is very close to its star. While it is extremely rare for giant planets like this to orbit so closely to Sun-like stars, it is even rarer for them to orbit M-dwarf stars as is the case here. MWC 758 c is a giant protoplanet that orbits a very young star. This star still has its protoplanetary disk, which is a rotating disc of gas and dust that can surround a young star.
      This planet was discovered using direct imaging. Was found carving spiral arms into its star’s protoplanetary disk. Is one of the first exoplanets discovered in a system where the star has a protoplanetary disk. The field of exoplanet science has exploded since the first exoplanet confirmation in 1992, and with evolving technology, the future for this field looks brighter than ever.
      In March 2022, NASA passed 5,000 confirmed exoplanets. Tis data sonification allows us to hear the pace of the discovery of those worlds. In this animation, exoplanets are represented by musical notes played across decades of discovery. Circles show location and size of orbit, while their color indicates the detection method. Lower notes mean longer orbits, higher notes mean shorter orbits. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Russo, A. Santaguida (SYSTEM Sounds) Watch this video in 3D There are a number of both space and ground-based instruments and observatories that scientists have used to detect and study exoplanets.
      NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched in 2018 and has identified thousands of exoplanet candidates and confirmed over 320 planets.
      NASA’s flagship space telescopes Spitzer, Hubble, and most recently the James Webb Space Telescope have also been used to discover and study exoplanets.
      NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is set to launch in May 2027. Roman will be carrying a technology demonstration called the Roman Coronagraph Instrument. This coronagraph will work by using a series of complex masks and mirrors to distort the light coming from far-away stars. By distorting this starlight, the instrument will reveal and directly-image hidden exoplanets.
      With the success of the Roman Coronagraph Instrument, NASA could push the envelope even further with is a concept for the mission the Habitable Worlds Observatory, which would search for “signatures of life on planets outside of our solar system,” according to the 2020 Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics.
      The Discoverers 
      These six exoplanets were discovered by different teams as part of five separate studies:
      TOI-4860 b TOI-2095 b & c HD 36384 b TOI-198 b MWC 758 c Share








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    • By European Space Agency
      30 years ago, on 16 July 1994, astronomers watched in awe as the first of many pieces of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet slammed into Jupiter with incredible force. The event sparked intense interest in the field of planetary defence as people asked: “Could we do anything to prevent this happening to Earth?”
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    • By NASA
      Portrait of retired NASA astronaut Joe Engle wearing flight suit in front of an X-15 fighter circa 1963. Retired NASA astronaut and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Joe Engle died July 10, surrounded by his family at home in Houston. Among his many honors, he is the only astronaut to pilot both the X-15 and space shuttle. He was 91.
      Engle became an astronaut at age 32 while flying the X-15 for the U.S. Air Force, becoming the youngest pilot ever to qualify as an astronaut. When selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in 1966, he was the only person selected that was already engaged in spaceflight operations. He was the last surviving X-15 pilot.
      “A natural pilot, Gen. Joe Engle helped humanity’s dreams take flight – in the X-15 program, the Apollo Program, and as one of the first commanders in the Space Shuttle Program,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “He was one of the first astronauts I met at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. I’ll never forget his big smile, his warmth, and his courage. We all will miss him.” 
      Engle was born in Dickinson County, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas, Lawrence, where he graduated with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955. He received his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Course, earning his pilot wings in 1958.
      As a NASA astronaut, he supported the Apollo Program, and was backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 14. In 1977, he served as commander of the space shuttle Enterprise, which used a modified Boeing 747 shuttle carrier aircraft to release Enterprise for approach and landing tests. In November 1981, he commanded the second flight of the space shuttle Columbia. He was the first and only pilot to manually fly an aerospace vehicle from Mach 25 to landing. He accumulated the last of his 224 hours in space when he commanded the space shuttle Discovery in August 1985, one of the most challenging shuttle missions ever. On that mission the crew deployed three commercial satellites and retrieved, repaired, and redeployed another malfunctioning satellite that had been launched on a previous shuttle mission.
      “As we mourn the immense loss of Joe, we’re thankful for his notable contributions to the advancement of human spaceflight,” said Vanessa Wyche, center director, NASA Johnson. “Joe’s accomplishments and legacy of perseverance will continue to inspire and impact generations of explorers for years to come.” 
      Engle flew more than 180 different aircraft types and logged more than 14,000 flight hours. His military decorations include the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, U.S. Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster. He has received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and Space Flight Medal, as well as the Harmon International Aviation Trophy, the Collier Trophy, the Goddard Space Trophy, the Gen.
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      “Joe Henry was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Blessed with natural piloting skills, General Joe, as he was known to many, was at his happiest in any cockpit. Always with a smile, he lived a fulfilled life as a proud American, U.S. Air Force pilot, astronaut, and Kansas Jayhawk,” said his wife, Jeanie Engle. “His passing leaves a tremendous loss in our hearts. We take comfort that he has joined Tom Stafford and George Abbey, two of the best friends anyone could ask for.”
      Learn more about Engle’s life as an astronaut and pilot:
      https://www.nasa.gov/aeronautics/the-x-15-the-pilot-and-the-space-shuttle/
      -end-
      Faith McKie / Cheryl Warner
      Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1600
      faith.d.mckie@nasa.gov / cheryl.m.warner@nasa.gov
      Chelsey Ballarte / Courtney Beasley
      Johnson Space Center, Houston
      281-483-5111
      chelsey.n.ballarte@nasa.gov / courtney.m.beasley@nasa.gov  
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      ESA’s (European Space Agency) Ariane 6 rocket launches NASA’s CURIE CubeSat from Europe’s Spacesport, the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. Photo credit: ESA/S. Corvaja NASA launched CURIE (CubeSat Radio Interferometry Experiment) as a rideshare payload on the inaugural flight of ESA’s (European Space Agency) Ariane 6 rocket, which launched at 4 p.m. GFT on July 9 from Europe’s Spaceport, the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, in French Guiana.
      Designed by a team from the University of California, Berkeley, CURIE will use radio interferometry to study the primary drivers of space weather. 
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      NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative selected CURIE in 2020 during the initiative’s 11th round of applications. NASA’s Launch Services Program, in collaboration with ESA, designated CURIE as one of eleven payloads supplied by space agencies, commercial companies, and universities for the first flight of ESA’s Ariane 6 rocket. 
      Image Credit:  ESA/M. Pédoussaut
      View the full article
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