Ariane 5 Record Launch

Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ECA scored another on-target success November 16, delivering a record heavyweight dual satellite payload to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

The mission lofted DIRECTV’s Spaceway 2 satellite and the Telkom 2 relay platform for Indonesia’s PT. Telekomunikasi Indonesia, Tbk.

This marked the 20th successful launch of an Ariane 5, and the flight demonstrated the lift capability of Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ECA version ­ which has payload capacity of nearly 10,000 kg. on missions to GTO.

For additional information on this record-setting performance, read our Mission Updates and the press release in the News and Information section of Arianespace’s Website:

Tracking Desertification

With a quarter of the Earth’s land surface affected, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification regards desertification as a worldwide problem. Delegates from the 170-plus signatories to the Convention currently gathered in Nairobi have been briefed by ESA representatives and national partners on how satellites are being used to track desertification in Europe.

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NASA is using the unique capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope for a new class of scientific observations of the Earth’s moon.

Hubble’s resolution and sensitivity to ultraviolet light have allowed the telescope to search for important oxygen-bearing minerals on the moon. Since the moon does not have a breathable atmosphere, minerals, such as ilmenite (titanium and iron oxide), may be critical for a sustained human lunar presence. Ilmenite is a potential source of oxygen for breathing or to power rockets.

The new Hubble observations are the first high-resolution, ultraviolet images ever acquired of the moon. The images provide scientists with a new tool to study mineral variations within the lunar crust. As NASA plans future expeditions to the moon, such data, in combination with other measurements, will help ensure the most valuable sites are targeted for robotic and human missions.
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Women’s International Simulation for Exploration

The second campaign of the Women’s International Space Simulation for Exploration (WISE) study has been fully under way at the MEDES clinic, in Toulouse, France since October 1st, 2005. The first campaign began in January of this year. A team of international scientists is taking part in this multi-year research venture between the European Space Agency (ESA), the French Space Agency (CNES), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Two Canadian researchers are participating in the year-long study: Dr. Richard L. Hughson, from the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and Dr. Guy Trudel, from the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Hughson is a leading expert in cardiovascular research while Dr. Trudel specializes in musculoskeletal research.

The 12 female participants from France, Finland, Switzerland and Britain are now lying in bed, head tilted down below their feet at an angle of 6º below horizontal. The women have been divided in three groups; a control group, receiving no extra treatment over the 60-day bed-rest period, a second group assigned an exercise program whilst in bed and a third group receiving a nutritional supplement.

Remaining in this head-down, tilted position results in many of the physiological changes observed in astronauts during spaceflight. The study will assess the roles of nutrition and combined physical exercise in countering the adverse effects of extended gravitational unloading through bed rest. “As we see more astronaut crews made up of both men and women, it is important that we look at the role gender plays on the effects space has on the body and then the strategies we use to counter these effects” says Dr. Nicole Buckley, Director of Life and Physical Sciences at the Canadian Space Agency.

Results will prove valuable in planning long-duration human missions in space. This research will also have clinical significance on Earth, advancing knowledge and pointing to improved methods of assisting recovery by bedridden patients. Studying the early effects of reduced activity on a molecular level is also expected to provide further evidence of the benefits of regular exercise in the prevention of conditions like type-II diabetes and high blood pressure.


NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed a new generation of stars spawned by a super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This novel mode of star formation may solve several mysteries about these super-massive black holes that reside at the centers of nearly all galaxies.

“Massive black holes are usually known for violence and destruction,” said Sergei Nayakshin of the University of Leicester, United Kingdom. “So it’s remarkable this black hole helped create new stars, not just destroy them.”
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