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AstroFest puts European space missions under the spotlight

The world’s second largest space agency, the European Space Agency (ESA), has a hand in a multitude of missions and 2014 is shaping up to be a seminal year for them. From the supreme accuracy of the Gaia mission that will measure the positions and characteristics of a billion stars in the Milky Way, to the Rosetta spacecraft that successfully awoke from hibernation on 20 January and is now preparing to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in May 2014, the next twelve months will be all-action for ESA. In particular, if everything goes to plan Rosetta could become one of the most exciting space missions yet, especially when it drops a small lander called Philae onto the comet’s surface in November to witness what life is like on a comet.

The European Space Agency's most ambitious space venture yet, the Rosetta mission, which will place a lander on a comet later this year. Image: ESA.

The European Space Agency's most ambitious space venture yet, the Rosetta mission, which will place a lander on a comet later this year. Image: ESA.

To provide detailed insight into these missions and the rest of ESA’s recent and varied catalogue of space projects including Venus Express, Mars Express, Huygens, Herschel and Planck, the agency’s Senior Scientific Advisor in the Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration, Professor Mark McCaughrean will be on stage at European AstroFest on the afternoon of Friday 7 February.

Find out how to book tickets to see this and other talks at European AstroFest 2014.