European Space Agency (ESA)
Sâzmân-e Fazâyi-ye Orupâ
Fr.: Agence spatiale européenne
An intergovernmental organisation dedicated to space research and technology as well as peaceful exploration of space, founded in 1975. It is headquartered in Paris and currently comprises 18 member states and one associated state (Canada). ESA has developed the Ariane series of space launch vehicles, and supports a launch facility in French Guiana. Moreover, ESA has four major research centers: The European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC), located in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, is the primary research center and manages the satellite projects. The European Space Operations Center (ESOC), situated in Darmstadt, Germany, is responsible for satellite control, monitoring, and data retrieval. The European Space Research Institute (ESRIN), located in Frascati, Italy, supports the ESA documentation service and manages the data obtained from remote sensing satellites. The European Astronaut Center (EAC), located in Cologne, Germany, is responsible for the selection and training of astronauts for space station missions. The European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), located in Villafranca del Castillo, Madrid, Spain, which holds scientific operations centres as well as archives. Some of the past ESA missions are the following ones. The Giotto space probe, which enabled examination of the core of → Halley's Comet in 1986. ESA also developed the Ulysses spacecraft (launched 1990) to explore the Sun's polar regions. Similarly, ESA established a system of meteorological satellites known as Meteosat. In 2003 ESA launched the Mars Express orbiter and its lander, Beagle 2. In 2009 ESA launched → Planck Satellite, that is designed to study the → cosmic microwave background, and the → Herschel Satellite, an infrared observatory that is the largest telescope in space.