Tag Archives: European Space Agency

New Search for Alien Life with Deep-Space Observatory

New Search for Exoplanets and Alien Life with Deep-Space Observatory

     The European Space Agency’s Science Programme Committee has approved the Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) mission to move into the construction phase. They aim to launch this deep-space observatory in 2026 with the goal of “discovering and
By Tom Ward

characterizing Earth-sized planets and super-Earths orbiting Sun-like stars in the habitable zone” — although it “could eventually lead to the detection of extraterrestrial life,” according to a University of Warwick press release.

The observatory will have 26 telescopes on board and will be launched 1.5 million km (932,000 miles) into space, where, according to a mission summary, it will conduct “Ultra-high precision, long (up to several years), uninterrupted photometric monitoring in the visible band of very large samples of bright (mV ≤11) stars.” This will provide unprecedented data on distant planets.

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Digital Message Sent to Possible Extraterrestrial Civilization

Digital Message Sent to Possible Extraterrestrial Civilization
A 14-minute digital transmission of 3,000 messages beamed toward Polaris, the North Star, by the European Space Agency’s Cebreros deep-space tracking station in Spain.
     Today’s 14-minute digital transmission of 3,000 messages beamed toward Polaris, the North Star, by the European Space Agency’s Cebreros deep-space tracking station in Spain ends a year-long effort
By The Daily Galaxy

known as “A Simple Response to an Elemental Message,” spearheaded by Irish-born artist Paul Quast, who solicited 3,775 text-only messages from around the world in response to this question: “How will our present environmental interactions shape the future?”

“The challenge of constructing any interstellar message is trying to anticipate what you and your recipient have in common,” said psychologist Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International, an organization dedicated to detecting alien intelligence.
“One thing we can guarantee is they won’t be native speakers of English or Swahili or Chinese.” And the same problem applies to any incoming message to Earth.

“It’s very reasonable to think that we will know there’s an extraterrestrial out there, that we will have a message that is distinctly artificial, but that we won’t be able to decipher it,” Vakoch added.

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Most Detailed 3D Atlas of a Billion Stars Released by ESA | VIDEO

Most Detailed 3D Atlas of a Billion Stars Released by ESA

• Satellite is now just over half-way through its five-year mission and the first batch of data has been released

• The one billion stars it has located are still only one per cent of the Milky Way’s estimated stellar population

Abigail Beall

• Gaia’s mapping effort is already unprecedented in scale, but the satellite still has several years left to run

• In the future Gaia will collect data about each star’s temperature, luminosity and chemical composition

Esa has unveiled a stunning 3D map of a billion stars in our galaxy that is 1,000 times more complete than anything that previously existed.

The data for the map was collected by a space-based probe called Gaia, which has been circling the sun nearly a million miles beyond Earth’s orbit since its launch in December 2013.

On its journey, the satellite has been discreetly snapping pictures of the Milky Way.

Now the European Space Agency has released the first batch of data collected by Gaia, which includes information on the brightness and position of over a billion stars. …

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Wild Light Show, Strange Sounds Coming From Jupiter | VIDEO

Wild Light Show, Strange Sounds Coming From Jupiter

     Jupiter is putting on quite a show — with both sound and light.

A new Hubble image shows a stunning light show, capturing an aurora display on the largest planet in our solar system (see above).

By Ed Mazza
The Huffington Post

Jupiter’s auroras cover areas bigger than the entire Earth, are hundreds of times more energetic and never cease, the European Space Agency said in a news release.

Unlike auroras here, which are caused by solar storms, Jupiter pulls charged particles from its surroundings, including solar winds and even the volcanos on Io, one of its moons and the most volcanically active world in the solar system.

In addition to stunning images, NASA also released unusual “sounds” from Jupiter captured by the Juno spacecraft, which will enter orbit around the planet on July 4.

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Russian space agency also on the hunt for extraterrestrial life

Russia’s space agency recently released a draft of their Federal Space Program for 2016 to 2025, and it includes their plans to join the European Space Agency (ESA) on the ExoMars Program whose mission is to hunt for signs of extraterrestrial life on Mars.

Russian newspaper RIA Novosti summarized the goals of the Russian Federal Space Agency, aka Roscomos, in a recent article on a draft of the new Russian Federal Space Program, which RIA Novosti was allowed to review. The headline for their story reads, “Search for extraterrestrial life is included in the draft of the new space program of the Russian Federation.”

The alien hunting program Roscomos is participating in is one that was created by the ESA and for a period of time was going to be executed in participation with NASA. It was part of the ESA/NASA Mars Exploration Joint Initiative. However, the ExoMars program was defunded on the U.S. side in 2013 purportedly due to cost overruns of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Graphic showing the now defunct ESA/NASA ExoMars project. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

Graphic showing the now defunct ESA-NASA ExoMars project. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

After NASA pulled out, Roscosmos jumped in, and as they put it, “thereby taking the place left by NASA.”

It is an ambitious project that includes four spacecraft. There will be an orbiter, two landers and a rover. The first part of the mission will include the orbiter and a lander, and is currently scheduled to be launched by a Roscomos Proton rocket in January, 2016.

The orbiter is called the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), and it serves many purposes. It will be used to survey Mars’ surface for landing sites, serve a sa communications relay for the landers and rover, map the distribution of near-surface water, and analyze the climate, including searching for and analyzing methane gas.

The ExoMars project timeline. See the English version below. Click to enlarge. (Credit: Roscosmos)

The ExoMars project details and timeline. See the English version below. Click to enlarge. (Credit: RIA Novosti)

The detection of methane is important because one source of methane is microbes. Previously, NASA reported that their Curiosity rover did not detect methane at a high enough level to support the idea that it stems from a biological source. However, scientists did point out that if life existed in the past, most of this methane could have been depleted.

It is hoped that the TGO will be able to further analyze the methane that has been detected on Mars to discover its origins.

The lander that will accompany the TGO in January is called the Schiaparelli Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) Lander, and, like its name indicates, one of its main goals it to test the ability of a lander to safely descend and land on the Martian surface.

Once there, it will also check the atmosphere and Martian weather. It includes a camera, so there will hopefully be some dramatic footage of its landing if it survives the trip. The lander is expected to arrive in October 2016.

The second ExoMars launch is planned to for May 2018. This package, which includes a lander and a rover, is expected to touch down on Mars in January 2019. The rover will have a drill which will pull Martian samples into an onboard lab for analysis. It will have the ability to look for biomolecules and biosignatures  from life that exists, or existed, on Mars in the present or past.

ExoMars model at ILA 2006 (Berlin) (Credit: Thomas Hagemeyer/Wikimedia Commons)

ExoMars model at ILA 2006 (Berlin) (Credit: Thomas Hagemeyer/Wikimedia Commons)

This is yet another project in the hunt for evidence of extraterrestrial life, which is the crux of the majority of the research on Mars, according to Seth Shostak, senior astronomer for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute.

He says the Mars missions are not just about looking at rocks. “That’s the mythology,” says Shostak. “Mars is about life, not geology, as interesting as that is.”

NASA’s chief scientist Ellen Stofan recently said, “I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within twenty to thirty years.”

Perhaps Mars is the place we will find it. Although, what a rub it would be if the ESA and Roscomos find it without the participation of NASA. Then again, there are scientists who feel we have evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars right here on Earth. The race is on.

ExoMars English

The ExoMars project details and timeline. Click to enlarge. (Credit: RIA Novosti)

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Monster Black Hole Could Transform Entire Galaxy

Monster Black Hole Could Transform Entire Galaxy

By Calla Cofield

      A ravenous, giant black hole has belched up a bubble of cosmic wind so powerful that it could change the fate of an entire galaxy, according to new observations.

Researchers using two X-ray telescopes have identified a cosmic wind blowing outward from the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy PDS 456. Astronomers have seen these winds before, but the authors of the new research say this is the first observation of a wind moving away from the center in every direction, creating a spherical shape.

The wind could have big implications for the future of the galaxy: It will cut down on the black hole’s food supply, and slow star formation in the rest of the galaxy, the researchers said. And it’s possible that strong cosmic winds are a common part of galaxy evolution — they could be responsible for turning galaxies from bright, active youngsters to quiet middle-agers. . . .

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Mysterious Radio Signals Coming from Rosetta Comet | VIDEO

Mysterious Radio Signals cComing from Rosetta Comet

By Stephen Morgan

     The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a tape of mysterious radio signals coming from the “Rosetta comet” . . ..

The ESA has dubbed 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as the “singing comet.” The Agency’s blog quotes Karl-Heinz, from Rosetta Plasma Consortium, as saying, “This is exciting because it is completely new to us. We did not expect this and we are still working to understand the physics of what is happening.”

The explanation they are currently giving has to do with geophysics of the object. The blog says the discovery “has taken the RPC scientists somewhat by surprise. The comet seems to be emitting a ‘song’ in the form of oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet’s environment. It is being sung at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing, which typically picks up sound between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. To make the music audible to the human ear, the frequencies have been increased by a factor of about 10,000.”

It continues, “The music was heard clearly by the magnetometer experiment (RPC-Mag) for the first time in August, when Rosetta drew to within 100 km of 67P/C-G. The scientists think it must be produced in some way by the activity of the comet, as it releases neutral particles into space where they become electrically charged due to a process called ionization. . . .

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