"We started from scratch to build the technical interfaces, the ground control systems and the working relationships. The only way to make this work is through cooperation," says Alberto Novelli, Head of Mission Operations at the Automated Transfer Vehicle Control Centre (ATV CC) in Toulouse, France.
Novelli and his team from ESA's Operation directorate are responsible for overseeing the safe operation of Jules Verne, the first ATV to launch to the International Space Station (ISS), now scheduled for 8 March.
ATV operations 'true trilateral effort'
"This is a major project for ESA and our industrial partners - it will perform the first fully automated ISS docking and operations are a true trilateral effort, involving ESA, NASA and ROSCOSMOS, the Russian space agency. It's also a first in the ISS programme," said Novelli.
At ATV CC, the central hub of the three-way operations effort, ESA staff and contract engineers are working closely with engineers from CNES - the French space agency - who operate ATV on behalf of ESA.
The ESA team comprises 16 engineers, trainers, mission directors and support personnel working at Toulouse, joined by an additional six specialists who work on background development of ground segment infrastructure.
NASA, ROSCOSMOS representatives on-site
The team are also supported by resident NASA and ROSCOSMOS representatives, who sit on console with their ESA/CNES colleagues to ensure that the other control centres involved in ATV - NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston and Russia's centre in Moscow - are kept fully 'connected' to ATV operations.
The agencies have also set up an ATV Joint Operations Working Group, a three-way forum at the Flight Director level.
The ESA operations team was put in place at ATV CC starting in 2003, and - together with their colleagues from CNES - the team has spent the past year in a particularly gruelling series of simulations, training sessions and procedure validations, working up to full readiness for 8 March 2008, when ATV is scheduled to be launched on board an Ariane 5 from ESA's Spaceport in Kourou.
In just the past few months, the three control centres (ATV, Houston and Moscow) have completed a demanding series of joint simulations, including four rendezvous (two simulations went all the way to docking), one docking simulation, one undocking and two reboosts (in which the ATV's engine is used to boost the ISS).
Further joint simulations were held on 1 and 8 February.
ESA Corporate Communication Offi | alfa
Stable magnetic bit of three atoms
21.09.2017 | Sonderforschungsbereich 668
Drones can almost see in the dark
20.09.2017 | Universität Zürich
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy