View of the conference room before the ESA Council at Ministerial Level

ESA’s Ministerial Council will be held in Lucerne, Switzerland on 1–2 December 2016. Ministers in charge of space activities from the 22 ESA Member States, Slovenia and Canada will meet to decide on future space activities for Europe.

The meeting will further the vision of a United Space in Europe in the era of Space 4.0.

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Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) Safely Enabling UAS Operations in Low-Altitude Airspace

Abstract: Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) Enabling Civilian Low-Altitude Airspace and Unmanned Aircraft System Operations What is the problem? Many beneficial civilian applications of UAS have been proposed, from goods delivery and infrastructure surveillance, to search and rescue, and agricultural monitoring. Currently, there is no established infrastructure to enable and safely manage the widespread use of low-altitude airspace and UAS operations, regardless of the type of UAS...

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Optical stabilising reference cavity

What looks like an abstract sculpture is actually the laser equivalent of a tuning fork – to serve a new generation of space instruments.

“This is an ‘optical stabilising reference cavity’, through which laser light is contained between a pair of super-polished mirrors kept a precise distance apart,” explains ESA physicist Eamonn Murphy.

”This laser light is then used to lock the frequency of the laser – and prevent it drifting – in a similar principle to a tuning fork, as applied to musical instruments.”

Such lasers will serve at the heart of next-generation ‘optical atomic clocks’, improving on current microwave atomic clocks used for timing and navigation, as well as enabling ultrasensitive gravity detectors.

This 5 cm cube cavity was developed for ESA by the National Physical Laboratory, NPL, which is the national measurement institute of the UK, specialised in extremely precise measuring techniques.

NPL used ultra-low expansion glass, resistant to changing size with temperature. A pathway was then drilled through the middle, with mirrors placed at either end.

The working version of the cavity is enclosed in a vacuum chamber to prevent any disturbance by air molecules, followed by a thermal shroud to maintain its temperature to within a tiny fraction of a degree. It can then be placed on an acoustic damping baseplate to further isolate it from any microvibrations.

This effort began back in 2009 with three parallel projects within ESA’s Basic Technology Research Programme, working with the national measuring institutes France and Germany as well as the UK.

Expertise and elements from all the resulting designs will soon be incorporated into a new working prototype, supported through ESA’s General Support Technology Programme, which finalises hardware for space.

“Our aim is to deliver a six order-of-magnitude improvement in laser linewidth from initial laser performance,” adds Eamonn, “to maintain a stable drift-free frequency, insensitive to even minute accelerations.”

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Living with Space 4.0

From the moment we wake to last thing at night, space science and technology surround us, sometimes without us even noticing: Faster Internet via the Space Data Highway, forecasting our weather, navigating our way, safer air traffic, telemedicine for remote areas, precision farming or natural disaster monitoring - just some of the benefits for us all, depicted in our latest video.

Read more at www.esa.int/CM16

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Living with Space 4.0

From the moment we wake to last thing at night, space science and technology surround us, sometimes without us even noticing: Faster Internet via the Space Data Highway, forecasting our weather, navigating our way, safer air traffic, telemedicine for remote areas, precision farming or natural disaster monitoring - just some of the benefits for us all, depicted in our latest video.

Read more at www.esa.int/CM16

Click here to visit Original posting