ESA Council meeting October 2017 approves NASA deal

The ESA Council, chaired by Jean-Yves Le Gall, met on 17-18 October in Paris, France.

An Agreement between NASA and ESA on ExoMars 2020 was unanimously approved to include NASA's Deep Space Network in the mission's ground segment and to extend Mars proximity relay communications using NASA's MRO and MAVEN orbiters.

The Director of Navigation, Paul Verhoef, presented the status of Galileo and plans for the Second Generation.

With 18 satellites now in orbit, a full constellation will include eight more satellites to be launched by mid-2018, providing 99.8% global coverage.

Hardware manufacturers like Samsung are including Galileo in their chipsets, the latest being Apple in the new generation of iPhones, unveiled last month.

"A technical benchmarking of the different satellite navigation systems has demonstrated that Europe is already the 'best in class' in terms of precision," commented ESA Director General Jan Woerner.

Preparations are under way for the second generation of Galileo.

Three days after the successful launch of Sentinel-5P, the Director of Earth Observation, Josef Aschbacher, presented the status of Copernicus.

Copernicus data are freely available to all. Globally accessible, the most active user community over the last three months is in Europe (about 5000 users), followed by Asia (about 2500) and North America (about 1300).

The data provided from Copernicus to help the Hurricane Harvey and Irma relief efforts were recognised in a press release by the US Department of State.

Council also heard from ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet on his highly successful Proxima mission to the International Space Station. ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli is currently on the Station for the NASA/ASI VITA mission, and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is preparing for his spring 2018 Horizon mission, when he will be commander of the international crew.


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