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Herschel-Planck_POD_01-12-08_S.jpg
spacer.gifHerschel, the largest telescope ever launched, will study objects within and outside our Galaxy. It will be able to peer through clouds of gas and dust and observe stars as they form. Unlike Herschel, Planck will rotate continuously about its axis, scanning the whole sky to compile the most detailed and complete map ever of the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB. This CMB radiation is the relic radiation left over from the Big Bang, which occurred about 14 thousand million years ago. Herschel and Planck will be launched together atop an Ariane 5 rocket in spring 2009.

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2008-11-06-gmes_vnr_S.jpg
spacer.gifRelying largely on satellite data, the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme will provide accurate and timely data to better manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. ESA is responsible for the Space Component of GMES. It will provide continuous, accurate satellite data from Earth observation satellites, like Envisat and ERS. As part of the GMES programme, ESA is also developing, building and launching a new series of Earth monitoring satellites called Sentinels. The Sentinels are five families of satellites that will monitor the land, oceans, ice and atmosphere for markers of environmental change. Data from the Sentinel satellites as well as other ESA and non-ESA missions contributing to GMES will be combined with measurements taken on Earth. As changes in parameters such as air quality and ocean height are recorded over time, legislation can be put in place to tackle issues such as flooding, deforestation and drought.

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ixv_vnr_POD_24-10-08_S.jpg
spacer.gifAfter being launched into space, the IXV - or Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle - will return to earth as if from a low-Earth orbit mission, testing brand-new European atmospheric re-entry technologies during its hypersonic and supersonic flight phases. For ESA, the mission is essential to further develop critical technologies for future robotic or manned spacecraft. In the name Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, the word intermediate means that the vehicle builds on earlier achievements and performs the step that forms the bridge to future developments. The two-hour IXV mission is scheduled for launch in 2012 on board Vega, Europe's new, small launcher.

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Frank_De_Winne_S.jpg
spacer.gifIn May 2009, De Winne will fly together with Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS. His back-up for the trip will be Dutch ESA astronaut André Kuipers. De Winnes role on board the ISS will be to carry out experiments for an extensive scientific European programme. He will also be operating the Stations robotic arm and the Japanese robotic arm after the docking of HTV, the cargo module from Japan. In preparation for these activities De Winne has been going through an intensive and long period of training aimed at preparing him physically and practising the experiments he will have to carry out on board the ISS in microgravity.

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Shar_S.jpg
spacer.gifOn the island of Sriharikota, 150 kilometres north of Chennai, India has based its launch centre SHAR, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, named after the research scientist and former president of the ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation. At SHAR two launch pads have been built for the two rockets developed by India: the PSLV, a 4-stage launch vehicle using liquid and solid propulsion and able to launch one-tonne craft into geostationary transfer orbit and the GSLV, a 2-tonne capacity launcher for geostationary transfer orbit. PSLV has the performance level required to launch Chandrayaan-1 on its way to the moon. Sriharikota is like a real town. About 2000 employees are living on the island with their families.

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Chandrayaan_S.jpg
spacer.gifThe Indian launch vehicle PSLV is now at its launch station at Shriharikota - nowadays Chennai - a small island 100 km from Madras in the Bay of Bengal. It is waiting for its passenger, the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1, currently under preparation in Bangalore. Chandrayaan means journey to the moon in Hindi. India has already built and launched many satellites but this is the first time that it will venture beyond the orbit of Earth. Six out of the 11 research instruments on board Chandrayaan are the result of international cooperative efforts, three of them with the European Space Agency (ESA). For ESA, Chandrayaan also represents an opportunity to re-use improved versions of the instruments which studied the moon on its SMART-1 lunar mission, and also a chance to send in orbit new instruments which will be used in upcoming ESA missions, such as the BepiColombo mission to Mercury.

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India_Europe_S.jpg
spacer.gifThe first venture between India and Europe took place in the 1980s. In 1981, Europe's Ariane 3 rocket launched into space India's first geostationary satellite Apple. The cooperation continues today with India's lunar mission Chandrayaan-1. India's INSAT satellites were also designed for weather forecasting and Earth observation. Thirteen of them lifted-off with Europe's Ariane launchers. Today India has developed its own launchers at its Sriharikota base in the Bay of Bengal and is about to enter a new stage with its first lunar mission Chandrayaan-1. The large antenna designed by the Indian Space Agency and specially installed outside Bangalore to monitor the Chandrayaan-1 mission forms part of India's deep space network and is a good illustration of India's desire to play a role in the conquest of space and to offer its services to other countries. India is also interested in other forms of cooperation that go beyond lunar discovery and astronomical missions.

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GOCE_ENG_POD_S.jpg
spacer.gifSince July 2008 the GOCE Earth Explorer satellite has been at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. ESAs Gravity field and steady state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) is a unique satellite that will map the Earth's gravity field for a better understanding of our planet. Although GOCE was due to lift-off in September 2008, launch has been postponed pending a technical issue on the Rockot launcher.

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ATV_final_mission_S.jpg
spacer.gifTwo de-orbit manoeuvres will lower ESA's Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle. Break up of the satellite is expected at an altitude of 65 km. The crew on board the ISS will attempt to observe the re-entry of the satellite over the Pacific. Engineers are already working on the following two ATVs. The next one is scheduled for launch in 2010 and proposals to adapt the spaceship to other tasks are ongoing.

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goce_S.jpg
spacer.gifESA's GOCE mission is dedicated to measuring the Earth's gravity field and modelling the geoid with unprecedented accuracy and spatial resolution. GOCE is the first in a series of research missions known as Earth Explorers. Driven by the needs of the scientific community, Earth Explorers will provide the data to help understand critical Earth system variables and put Europe in pole position on Earth observation in the coming years. GOCE is due for launch in September 2008 on a Russian Rockot vehicle a converted SS-19 Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. All the data collected by GOCE will go towards creating a global gravity-field map with a level of accuracy never before available. ESA has developed an internet interface that will make these data easily and quickly available to scientists and researchers.

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