Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


European communication equipment for the ATV and the Eneide mission reaches the ISS


Preparations for the arrival of "Jules Verne", the first European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), and those for ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori’s mission, took a step forward when the unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft Progress M-52 docked yesterday, 2 March at 21.10 Central European Time (CET) with the International Space Station (ISS).

Launched two days earlier, on 28 February at 20.09 CET from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan by a Soyuz rocket as ISS mission 17P, the Progress supply vehicle carried, among other cargo, a communication system made in Europe that will be used when the ATV docks with the station in 2006. The "Proximity Communication Equipment" (PCE) will provide S-band data communication between the ISS and the ATV during the last 30 kilometres before the ATV docks. It consists of two communication assemblies which are fully redundant. The system was developed and integrated under ESA contract by EADS Astrium in Toulouse, France.

Prior to its integration into the Progress vehicle, the complete PCE was checked out from 7 to 11 February by a combined ESA, industry and Russian team at the launch site in Baikonur. The equipment will be installed by the two astronauts who are now living and working in the Russian laboratory and habitation module "Zvezda", where the ATV will dock. The complete system will then be tested on the ISS in early April.

The PCE will transmit to the ATV the position data obtained from the global positioning system (GPS) on board the ISS so that the ATV knows its position relative to the station throughout the approach phase up to a distance of 500m, at which point the ATV will switch from GPS navigation mode to a laser navigation mode, using a telegoniometer and a videometer for the final phase, in which docking equipment made in Russia will be used.

"The ATV is the most complex and innovative spaceship ever developed and built in Europe," says John Ellwood, ESA’s project manager for the ATV. "The first flight model, named after French science fiction author Jules Verne, is currently undergoing extensive tests at the ESA test facilities at the European Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

There, under the responsibility of the industrial main contractor, EADS Space Transportation of Les Mureaux, France, a large number of tests are being performed to verify the ATV’s compatibility with the electromagnetic, acoustic and thermal environment and the space vacuum in which it will operate. This phase also serves to verify and practice certain operational procedures, such as accessing the cargo transported by the ATV. On completion of the tests, the ATV will be transported by sea to Kourou, French Guiana, from where it is to be launched by an Ariane 5 in early 2006."

The Progress also carried the scientific equipment for seven experiments to be carried out by ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori during his mission to the ISS from 15 to 24 April: Agrospace, ASIA, ETD, Hand Posture Analyser, Lazio, Microspace and SPQR.

Agrospace in fact consists of two separate experiments: one in which beans will be germinated in space at the same time as others are germinated by students in classrooms on Earth and another, also related to plant germination, to evaluate the feasibility of producing vegetable sprouts in space for consumption by the crew.

ASIA, which stands for Analysis Experimentation Implementation Algorithms, will verify the capability of a high-performance computer board to withstand the space radiation environment in order to evaluate its possible utilisation in satellites of future generations.

ETD will measure the orientation of Listing’s plane with an eye-tracking device. Listing’s plane is the name of the coordinate framework which describes the movement of the eyes in the head. On Earth it appears to be dependent on inputs from the body’s vestibular system which controls the body’s balance, orientation and posture. It is fundamental for scientists to understand how the vestibular system adapts to weightlessness and how this relates to the occurrence of space sickness.

The results of the Hand Posture Analyser experiment can help to find methods of countering fatigue that can have major effects on the hand and forearms of astronauts in weightlessness. Such methods can then also be used on Earth for the treatment of patients with local trauma, muscle atrophy or diseases of the central nervous system.

Lazio, the name of the region around Rome, is also an acronym for Low-Altitude Zone Ionising Observatory. This experiment will study the space radiation and magnetic environment inside the ISS, in particular with regard to the “light flashes” phenomenon. It will also assess the effectiveness of different shielding materials in reducing the radiation environment. This will be the first test in space of a sensor capable of high-accuracy monitoring of the short-term stability of the Van Allen belts, to study the possibility of earthquake-related precursor phenomena as was initially suggested by Russian scientists about two decades ago.

The Microspace experiment will study the responses of microbial life to environmental factors in a space vehicle. Different microbial strains will be flown to the ISS in order to study the effects of space radiation and weightlessness on the cultures. It may improve our understanding of the basic biology of microorganisms.

SPQR, for 2000 years the classical acronym for the Senate and People of Rome (Senatus Populusque Romanus in Latin) has taken on a new meaning for the Eneide mission: Specular Point-like Quick Reference. The experiment will test a ground-based imaging system, using special optics and image processing, to determine the feasibility of detecting external damage to a spacecraft in orbit from the ground. It will be based on a Cube Corner Reflector, fixed close to an ISS window, which will reflect a laser beam emitted by a ground station.

Dieter Isakeit | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1
21.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Hochfrequenzphysik und Radartechnik FHR

nachricht Taming chaos: Calculating probability in complex systems
21.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>