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Science & Exploration

N° 2–1993: EURECA mission Progressing towards Retrieval

18 January 1993

A EURECA Workshop and Press Briefing is scheduled on Monday 8th February 1993 at ESA's Space Operations Centre, ESOC, Darmstadt, home of the EURECA Operations Control Centre (OCC) when Principal investigators will present to the public the purpose, progress and preliminary findings of their experiments.

Five months after the launch on 31 July l992, more than three quarters of the planned work programme of science and technology experiments on- board EURECA have been accomplished successfully according to the original plan. The remaining payload related activities are anticipated to be concluded by mid-February 1993.

EURECA, currently orbiting at an altitude just below 500 km, is planned to be retrieved together with its experiments and samples, at the beginning of May 1993 by Space Shuttle Endeavour on flight STS-57 scheduled for launch on 28 April 1993.

The mission's output is composed of space science and experiment data sent to the ground regularly for scientific and engineering analysis, materials processes in the environment of very low residual acceleration that is offered by the EURECA mission, sample exposure to the space ambient, surface forces research, space particle collection and new technology applications. While a significant portion of the mission's yield is contained in its abundant ànd continuous data generation, the primary mission objective is the analysis in ground based laboratories of the biological and material-samples after their return to Earth and the ability, in principle, to the spacecraft and payloads again in a later flight.

Science and engineering data are made available to the users electronically with minimum delays, thus avoiding the ponderous physical shipment of data media of the past. To date, more than 122100 data requests (on average around 800 per day) from various remote locations/ investigators (experiment home institutes, DLR's Microgravity user Support centre, industry and ESTEC ) have been served by the EURECA Data Disposition System (DDS) at ESOC, using mainly packet switching public data networks (PSPDNs) to transmit a total data volume in excess of 6000 million bytes (on average around 35 Megabytes per day).

The satisfactory progress of the mission proves the underlying concept of operating a complex space research by means of satellite autonomy and on-board operations that are pre-programmed and controlled during scattered daily control centre contact times totalling only around 5% of the duration of the mission on average.

Journalists wishing to attend the EURECA Press Briefing on 8th February in Darmstadt, Germany and/or receive the programme, are kindly requested to` contact directly the Public Relations Office at ESOC ( Tel . : +49-6151-90 . 26 . 96) .
More detailed status and progress reports will be provided at the press event on 8 february.