- News Home
12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
- About Us
Europe Considers Putting Two Missions on One Rocket
22 April 1997 8:00 pm
PARIS--The European Space Agency (ESA) has come up with an innovative strategy to ease the money problems plaguing its space science program: It plans to combine two astronomy missions by arranging their telescopes back to back on a single spacecraft.
ESA's shrinking budget and its decision this month to refly last year's failed Cluster mission are threatening to delay the schedules of other science missions. These include the 2007 launch date of the 3- to 3.5-meter Far Infrared Space Telescope (FIRST) and the 2004 launch of Planck, the rotating 1.5-meter mirror of which will detect microwave background radiation.
But ESA officials now propose combining the instruments for these two missions on a spacecraft to be launched in 2005. "By joining them, we can ensure the flight of both missions," says ESA's Serge Volonté. At minimum, this will save the cost of Planck's launch (60 million ECU, or $68 million).
"It is a compromise, but so far, [one] which will not harm the main scientific goals of the two missions," says astronomer Michael Rowan-Robinson of Imperial College in London. There is at least one drawback, however: Because Planck rotates while FIRST points to individual objects, the two telescopes will have to alternate taking data--stretching the planned time for FIRST (3.0 years) and Planck (1.5 years) to 4.5 years each, the total for the dual mission.