ESA flight director Andrea Accomazzo, says the Philae lander is ready to separate from the Rosetta mothership and touchdown on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
On 14 March, the ExoMars spacecraft and Schiaparelli lander were lofted into orbit by a Proton rocket, starting a seven-month journey to the Red Planet. For the ExoMars launch, ESA’s near-Earth object (NEO) coordination centre in Italy organised a successful international campaign for ground-based optical observations of the departing spacecraft.
The European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, now sailing around the sun on a trajectory away from Earth, was deactivated Tuesday after a nearly 18-month mission testing previously-untried lasers, vacuum enclosures, exotic gold-platinum cubes and micro-thrusters needed for a trio of gravitational wave observatories set for launch in the 2030s.
Fierce flashes of light ripple through delicate tendrils of gas in this new image, from ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory, which shows the dramatic heart of a large and dense cosmic cloud known as Mon R2 in the constellation Monoceros that lies eight degrees east of the Orion Nebula. Mon R2 lies some 2700 light-years away and is studded with hot, newly-formed stars.