ESA Bulletin 129 (February 2007)

Global environmental change is the most fundamental challenge facing humanity. How are satellites providing the information needed for understanding the effect of increasing human activity? The two lead articles in the latest issue of ESA's magazine tackle the subject.
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Later this year, Europe will become a major shareholder in the International Space Station when its Columbus laboratory is attached to begin at least 10 years of experiments. 'Building the Future' looks at how previous astronaut missions are providing the experience for this major step.

Operating high-tech satellites is a demanding and unforgiving business, especially when they are heading towards old age and their power systems are starting to fail. That's exactly the problem facing the controllers of ESA's quartet of Cluster satellites, launched to investigate the magnetic connection between the Sun and Earth. Periodic and tender loving care is required to maintain the flow of invaluable information.

More articles look at how two small satellites have qualified new technologies for use in space. One pioneered the use of electric thrusters at the same time as returning important information on the Moon, while the other is packed with new technology and after 5 years continues to delivere thousands of Earth images.

The Bulletin is published four times a year to inform the space-interested public of ESA's activities. In addition to a wide range of articles, every issue provides an overview of the status of ESA's major space projects.

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