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Mars Express mission extended until the end of 2018

18. December 2014

It follows an elliptical orbit around Mars, undisturbed, almost lonely – the orbiter Mars Express. For 11 years now – to be precise since Christmas Eve 2003 – the first and, for some time now, European Space Agency longest-serving interplanetary mission has been travelling around our planetary neighbour.

Airborne observatory SOFIA returns to California

15. December 2014

Looking almost brand-new, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) set off from Hamburg, destined for its home base at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California, at 13:16 CET on 14 December 2014 after its five and a half month visit.

Ceres

Visual contact with dwarf planet Ceres

5. December 2014

With a diameter of nearly 1000 kilometres, it was the largest known asteroid – and yet Ceres, which was 'promoted' from asteroid to dwarf planet in 2006, is just nine pixels wide in the image acquired by the Dawn spacecraft on 1 December 2014.

Mascot

MASCOT en route to Asteroid 1999 JU3

3. December 2014

Philae landed on a comet just three weeks ago; now, another German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) lander mission has been launched – the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) is already on its way to Asteroid 1999 JU3.

'Super laser' revolutionises data communications in space

28. November 2014

It takes almost three days to fly the 36,000 kilometres from Berlin to Wellington and back. On 28 November 2014, a laser beam covered a comparable distance in outer space for the first time – with the difference that it only took a few seconds to dispatch satellite images to Earth via a relay satellite.

Mascot

All set for space! – the MASCOT asteroid lander

27. November 2014

Originally scheduled for launch at 05:24 CET on 30 November 2014, the MASCOT asteroid lander will now set off from Tanegashima Space Center on board the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) orbiter Hayabusa 2 no earlier than 1 December, destined for asteroid 1999 JU3.

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ROLIS – approaching 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 3D

21. November 2014

Just three kilometres from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the ROsetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS) acquired images of the 'head' and underlying 'body' of Comet 67P. Immediately below is the planned landing site, Agilkia; in the top right of the field of view, one of the landing gear feet can be seen as the camera on the underside of the lander approaches the comet's surface at walking pace.

Philae

Philae's triple play

20. November 2014

A short but significant 'thud' was heard by the Cometary Acoustic Surface Sounding Experiment (CASSE) as Philae made its first touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The two-second recording from space is the very first of the contact between a man-made object with a comet upon landing.

MUPUS

Philae on 67P – MUPUS experiment hammers probe into a comet 500 million kilometres from Earth

18. November 2014

The MUPUS instrument, one of 10 experiments on the Philae lander that touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko encountered very hard material with a temperature of about minus 170 degrees Celsius – probably rich in ice.

Age of star nursery precisely determined for the first time

17. November 2014

How long does it take for a star to be born? To date, only this much has been clear: longer than there have been humans on Earth with the technology to observe it. But the precise age of a star-forming cloud has now been determined by a team under the leadership of scientists at the University of Cologne using the GREAT spectrometer on board the SOFIA airborne observatory.

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Churyumov-Gerasimenko – hard ice and organic molecules

17. November 2014

Before going into hibernation at 01:36 CET on 15 November 2014, the Philae lander was able to conduct some work using power supplied by its primary battery. With its 10 instruments, the mini laboratory sniffed the atmosphere, drilled, hammered and studied Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko while over 500 million kilometres from Earth.

ATV technology for the new Orion space capsule

17. November 2014

Construction of the International Space Station (ISS) started on 20 November 1998 with the launch of the Russian cargo and propulsion module 'Zarya' (Dawn).

Lander Control Center (LCC)

Philae lander shortly before hibernation

15. November 2014

Update – the Philae lander entered sleep mode at 01:36 CET on 15 November 2014. The Philae lander performed about 56 hours of continuous scientific measurements on the surface of Comet 67P, but by 01:15 CET on 15 November the energy state of the lander became so low that the engineers assumed that Philae would go into sleep mode during the night.

Lander Control Center

Philae, the survivalist

14. November 2014

Not only was it the first ever landing on a comet – it was also the second and third. Since 18:32 CET on 12 November 2014, the Philae lander has been on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, performing experiments and returning data.

Willkommen auf Komet 67P!

Welcome to a comet

13. November 2014

Rosetta's lander Philae is safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as these first two CIVA images confirm.

Visit to Comet 67P – Philae has landed

12. November 2014

On 12 November 2014, the Philae lander touched down on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This is the first time a man-made device has landed on a comet and collected data directly from the surface.

Interview with Svetlana Gerasimenko – 'Beginner's luck'

11. November 2014

In 1969, Svetlana Gerasimenko and Klim Churyumov discovered the comet that the Philae lander will descend to on 12 November 2014.

Ankunft in Köln

Welcome back Alexander! – German ESA astronaut back on Earth

10. November 2014

German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is back on Earth after spending five and a half months in space. The 38-year-old geophysicist and flight engineer landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan roughly 100 kilometres from the city of Arkalyk at 04:58 CET (09:58 local time) on 10 November 2014 after a three and a half hour return journey on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

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A challenge – the first landing on a comet

7. November 2014

The Philae lander on board the Rosetta spacecraft has been en route to its destination, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, since 2 March 2004. On 12 November 2014, it will be released from its mother craft at an altitude of 22.5 kilometres above the comet and – if everything goes according to plan – will touch down on the surface of the comet about seven hours later.

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Philae landing site J is now named 'Agilkia'

4. November 2014

Egyptian history has been explored, new words invented and appropriate comparisons sought for; a total of about 8300 suggestions for Philae’s landing site on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko were received at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the French Space Agency (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales; CNES) the Italian Space Agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana; ASI) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

 
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