The European Space Agency (ESA) began and finished its 2015 calendar year with the launch of two innovative missions: IXV, the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, and LISA Pathfinder, which launched in December to test low-frequency gravitation wave detection. Listed below are a few of the other pioneering projects that the ESA conducted this past year.
In February, the ESA’s IXV spacecraft was launched on a two hour flight to validate critical reentry techonologies. The Intermediate Experimental Vehicle proved Europe’s abilities to guide its own vehicles safely back to Earth.
Then in March, two new Galileo navigation satellites were sent into space, and another four were launched by the end of the year. Today, fourteen Galileo satellites are up and running, with more than one-third of the constellation in space and a fully-deployed ground network.
In June, Sentinel-2 was launched to survey changes in the Earth’s landscape, oceans, and atmosphere. Next year, ESA will launch another Earth observation satellite, Sentinel-3. The data sent back to Earth from these satellites will be vital to monitoring climate change
The following month, ESA launched Europe’s last Meteosat Second Generation weather satellite, MSG-4, on July 15. The satellite will guarantee the continued obserservation of high quality weather reports from space.
Europe’s comet chaser mission, Rosetta, also provided some great information on comets in 2015. On August 13, the spacecraft witnessed Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko making its closest approach to the Sun. Dramatic photographs of the comet outgassing were returned to Earth, helping scientists better understand the comet’s surface and atmosphere.
Launched by a Vega rocket in early December, the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft will test in flight the concept of low-frequency gravitation wave detection.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense