Lights on Uranus


BARCELONA, (ESA).- On the first day of the 15th annual European Space Weather Week, this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope fittingly shows a striking occurrence of celestial weather in the outer reaches of the Solar System: an aurora on Uranus.

Auroras, also known as polar lights, are a relatively familiar type of space weather to Earth-based stargazers, but have also been spied on many other planets in the Solar System.

Views of the Earth’s Northern and Southern Lights show glowing sheets and rippling waves of bright light painting the sky in striking shades of green and even red, blue, and purple; these breath-taking scenes are created as streams of energetic charged particles hit the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere at altitudes of up to a few hundreds of kilometres, and interact with resident atoms and molecules of mostly oxygen and nitrogen. These emit photons at specific visible wavelengths or colours – green and red for oxygen, blue and purple for nitrogen – and fill the sky with an eerie auroral glow.

Hubble has observed auroras on Uranus on various occasions: in 2011, when the telescope became the first to image the phenomenon from the vicinity of Earth, then again in 2012 and 2014, taking extra data beyond visible light.

By pointing Hubble’s ultraviolet eye on Uranus twice during the same month, from 1 to 5 and 22 to 24 November 2014, scientists were able to determine that the planet’s glimmering auroras rotate along with the planet. The observations also helped to locate Uranus’ magnetic poles, and allowed scientists to track two so-called interplanetary shocks that propagated through the Solar System. These shocks were triggered by two powerful bursts of material flung out by the Sun via the solar wind, an ongoing flow of charged particles constantly emanating from our star, and caused the most intense auroras ever seen on Uranus.

This image, originally published in 2017, shows the auroras as wispy patches of white against the planet’s azure blue disc, and combines optical and ultraviolet observations from Hubble with archive data from NASA’s Voyager 2 probe. Voyager 2 was the first and only craft to visit the outermost planets in the Solar System; it flew past Uranus in January 1986, and past Neptune in August 1989. These icy planets have not been visited since. NASA and ESA have been studying a possible joint mission that would target the two ice giant planets in order to explore their intriguing role in our planetary system.

European Space Weather Week runs from 5 to 9 November 2018, and brings together engineers, scientists, specialists, and professionals from across the continent in order to exchange news, ideas, and strategies on space weather and protecting Earth’s cosmic environment.

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ZETA,. Star Alliance members EVA Air and Copa Airlines began a code-sharing agreement on 04 November, 2018, making travel to/from Asia and Panama more convenient and extending services for both airlines’ passengers.

Under the code-share, Copa passengers can take EVA-operated flights to Taipei from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Inbound from Asia, EVA passengers can connect through these same cities to fly Copa to Panama City. Passengers can book and buy tickets now for travel on EVA and the code-shared flights at

The new code-share gives passengers the convenience and flexibility of more than 40 flights a week from major cities in the United States to Panama City and makes it easier than ever to plan both business and leisure itineraries. It also enhances EVA’s and Copa’s flight networks, allowing both airlines to more smoothly meet passengers’ needs with flights from Taiwan to the U.S. and onward to Panama and vice versa.

In addition to the century-old Panama Canal, tourists to the Central American country can choose from a variety of attractions and activities. The enchanting San Blas Islands sprinkled near Panama’s northeast coast in the Caribbean Sea, invite scuba diving, gourmet seafood dining and exploring the indigenous Guna Indian lifestyle.

Boquete in the Panama highlands offers cooler temperatures and beautiful scenery where Geisha coffee beans, the world’s most expensive, grow.

Near the mountain city of Volcano Baru, travelers can go whitewater rafting or hike forested terrain punctuated by a variety wildlife. Panama City, the nation’s capital, fuses history and modernity in a vibrant metropolis where visitors can stroll the old streets of Casco Viejo, a World Heritage Site, or take advantage of all the conveniences of a major urban setting.

Since joining Star Alliance in 2013, EVA has steadily added more passenger benefits and conveniences by working with other member airlines to extend routes, increase frequency and give travelers seamless services to every corner of the world. In addition to Copa Airline, EVA codeshares with Avianca on flights to/from Taipei in Asia and San Salvador in Central America.

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Tags: COPA Eva Air Star Alliance


ZETA.-On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, four human rights experts urge the Government of Mexico to adopt all necessary measures to ensure continued and sufficient funding for the Federal Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists to prevent future financial crisis.

The experts from the United Nations and the IACHR have found that the Protection Mechanism had made significant progress, but still lacks sufficient resources to fully exercise its mandate.

The experts also highlight their concerns regarding the little progress in eradicating impunity for crimes against journalists and human rights defenders. On the Day to end the impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the experts believe it is imperative for Mexican authorities to strengthen the role of the Special Prosecutor's Office for the Attention of Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression [Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión] (FEADLE) so that it can use its legal authority to investigate and prosecute crimes against journalists.

“We welcomed actions taken by the Government of Mexico to provide funding for the operation of the Protection Mechanism throughout the transition period, but remain concerned about recurring financial challenges that have impaired its continuing operation”, they said.

The Mechanism provides protection to more than 700 people. During 2018, several authorities and civil society organizations raised the alarm that the Mechanism´s funds were to be depleted by the end of September. On September 5, the Mechanism's Advisory Board warned about the imminent lack of resources necessary to carry out its functions and the failure of the Government to meet its commitments”. Since 2016, the budget of Mechanism has been decreased and in 2017, it also faced a financial crisis.

After their visit to Mexico, the Rapporteurs observed the Mechanism is the most important public policy for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists in the country. “Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights defenders and journalists and a fully funded Protection Mechanism is simply essential to effectively prevent more attacks", they affirmed.

The experts reiterate that “an ambitious Government effort to increase the Mechanism’s capabilities and budget will serve the goal of better protection and would also send a message of political will to make journalist and human rights defender safety a national priority”.

The experts call the Mexican authorities to strengthen capabilities and provide adequate funding for the prosecutors in charge of investigate and prosecute crimes against journalists and human rights defenders, by adopting, among others, an investigation protocol, reinforcing investigation strategies and training, reorganizing its internal structure,  improving communication with victims and increasing coordination with local authorities. Also, take note of the actions recently taken by FEADLE to exercise jurisdiction regarding the investigations of the murders of journalists Javier Valdez and Miroslava Breach in 2017 and arrest the possible authors of these crimes. 

The experts highlight their willingness to continue collaborating with the Mexican government to strengthen the Mechanism, and the adequate and full implementation of the recommendations issued during and after their official visits to the country.

*The experts: Mr. David KayeUN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Michel ForstUN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mr. Edison LanzaIACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression; and Mr. Francisco José Eguiguren PraeliRapporteur on human rights defenders of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Mr. Kaye and Mr. Forst, as Special Rapporteurs, are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

Mr. Lanza was appointed as Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in July 2014 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the IACHR to encourage the defence of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.


Mr. Francisco José Eguiguren PraeliRapporteur on human rights defenders of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, was elected on June 16, 2015, by the OAS General Assembly, for a 4-year mandate ending December 31, 2019. A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.


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New electric propulsion module bids Belfast farewell


BARCELONA, (ESA).- It is nearly time for the first new electric propulsion module of Spacebus Neo to complete its last run of tests in Thales UK’s Belfast assembly centre before being shipped to Cannes for final spacecraft assembly.

Spacebus Neo is a new telecom satellite product line by Thales Alenia Space, developed under ESA’s Neosat programme.

The first satellite will be Eutelsat’s KONNECT, which will provide broadband to Europe and Africa.


A balancing act of innovation

Electric propulsion is one of the main pillars of the Neosat programme.

Its key advantage over traditional chemical propulsion is that it requires less propellant; requiring significantly less mass and consequently less volume on board the satellite.

This gives the satellite owner the option to either have the same payload and benefit from the lower mass of the spacecraft, resulting in a lower cost to launch, or to significantly increase the size of the payload to take advantage of the launcher capability.

The Spacebus Neo design is also innovative, incorporating electric propulsion from the start.

All of the propulsion equipment is either installed inside of, or attached to, a central tube to become a standalone module, further contributing to the mission’s efficient use of space.

The spacecraft is designed to be as quick and cost-effective to build as possible, being based on a modular concept, while also being easily customisable to fit the satellite’s owner’s mission.

This is crucial in an industry that always treads a tightrope between payload mass, power, schedule and overall cost.

A pioneering module

As the first of its kind, the Spacebus Neo electric flight propulsion hardware performance is being rigorously tested in Belfast to establish that it is behaving as it should, and prove that the standardised design is robust enough to support the wide range of missions for which it is intended.

The electric propulsion model is racking up ‘firsts’ in other areas as well, as the first of its kind to be a wholly UK product, designed by Thales Alenia Space in the UK, and tested and assembled in Thales Belfast.

It is now being prepared for shipment to Thales Alenia Space Cannes in France, where it will be mated with the avionics and payload modules and subject to extensive mechanical, thermal and functional tests to ensure that it will be able to cope with the harsh conditions of launch and space.

The satellite will be launched from French Guyana next year on an Ariane 5, and will travel to its final orbital slot on the geostationary arc over the course of six months.

When operational, the satellite will connect developing communities that have not previously had reliable access to broadband services, if at all.

It is designed to provide flexible, affordable coverage to equipped businesses and homes, in Europe and Africa.

Brought about partnership

UK Space Agency Chief Executive, Graham Turnock, said: “Pioneering innovations like this all electric propulsion module will improve access to space, but also deliver new jobs and growth on the ground. We’re working with industry to grow the UK’s share of the global space market to 10% by 2030, and the Thales Alenia Space facility in Belfast is an excellent example of that capability.”

ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, Magali Vaissiere, said: “We are proud to celebrate this milestone with our partners. Supporting the competitiveness of our Member States’ industry is of paramount importance to ESA, and the Spacebus Neo programme is a prime example of a successful ARTES public-private partnership, with a satellite system integrator managing a large scale innovative project and its in-orbit validation.”

Thales Alenia Space UK CEO, Ben Olivier, said: “The all-electric propulsion module, designed and built by specialist teams in Harwell and Belfast, represents the strong commitment of Thales Alenia Space to create, sustain and grow world class innovation, design and advanced space engineering skills in the UK, producing important contributions to future space programmes. This event is an important delivery milestone not only for Eutelsat, Thales Alenia Space and Thales but also for our stakeholders in Invest Northern Ireland, the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency. This important step is a reflection of the UK’s dynamic and growing space sector.  The UK space industry is a key pillar in the Government’s Industrial Strategy for economic growth in the UK and the delivery of this module is a tangible example of the progress of that strategy and represents a significant investment in the UK by Thales Alenia Space.”

Eutelsat’s Deputy CEO and Chief Technical Officer, Yohann Leroy, said: “Championing innovation in the space industry, we are proud to welcome the delivery of the Spacebus Neo XPS module to our future KONNECT satellite, which will reinforce our leadership in the use of electric propulsion for geostationary communication satellites. This collaboration with Thales Alena Space is of significant importance to us. It marks the first of a two-part series, with two satellites in construction by Thales Alenia Space for Eutelsat: KONNECT and KONNECT VHTS. This ground-breaking industrial approach for the XPS modules, spearheaded by UK space industry, will be rolled-out to both programmes.”

The Neosat programme

The new Spacebus Neo product line is developed in the frame of ESA's Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme, in cooperation with space agencies from ESA Member States, particularly CNES and the UK Space Agency.

The Neosat programme comprises both Spacebus Neo by Thales Alenia Space and Eurostar Neo by Airbus Defence and Space. It includes development and in-orbit validation of the new satellite product lines for both companies, allowing the two European satellite prime integrators to deliver competitive satellites for the commercial satellite market.

Copyright: Thales Alenia Space

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IACHR conducts on site visit to Brazil


ZETA.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will conduct an on-site visit to Brazil from November 5-12, 2018, at the invitation of the Brazilian Government received in early 2018. The Commission is grateful for the cooperation of the Brazilian Government and civil society organizations in the planning and preparation of the visit.

The delegation that will conduct the visit will be headed by the President of the IACHR, Margarette May Macaulay; the First Vice President, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño; the Second Vice President, Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva; Commissioners Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli and Joel Hernández García, and Commissioner Antonia Urrejola Noguera, Rapporteur for Brazil. The delegation also includes the Chief of Staff, Marisol Blanchard; the Assistant Executive Secretary, María Claudia Pulido; the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza; the Special Rapporteur for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Soledad García Muñoz; and specialists from the Executive Secretariat.

The IACHR will conduct field observations on the human rights situation in the country, focusing on the following cross-cutting themes: discrimination, inequality, poverty, democratic institutions and public policies on human rights. In particular, it will look at the situation of persons of African descent and traditional Afro-descendant peoples (Quilombolas); indigenous communities and peoples; peasants and rural workers; the urban population living in poverty, human rights defenders; people deprived of their liberty and migrants, among others. Within these areas, the IACHR will pay special attention to groups that have historically found themselves in situations of discrimination, vulnerability and exclusion. In addition, the IACHR will gather information on the situation of citizen security, both urban and rural, as well as on conflicts over lands and territories. The Inter-American Commission will also observe the situation of access to justice and the possible situation of impunity for serious human rights violations.

The delegation will visit Brasilia, as well as the states of Bahia, Maranhão, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rio de Janeiro, Roraima and São Paulo. The Inter-American Commission delegation plans to meet with government authorities at the federal, state and local levels. It will also meet with civil society organizations, social movements, and academics; and gather testimonies of victims of human rights violations and family members in the different places that will be visited. The IACHR will also hold meetings with United Nations agencies and members of the diplomatic corps.

During the visit, there will be two offices of the IACHR to receive complaints and petitions within the framework of its mandate under the American Convention on Human Rights. One of the offices will be located in Brasilia and will be open from November 5th to 7th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Hotel B. The other office will operate in Rio de Janeiro on November 8th from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and on November 9th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the Hilton Copacabana Hotel.

The IACHR will present its preliminary observations at the end of its visit, in a press conference to be held on Monday, November 12 at 11:00 am at the Hilton Hotel - Rio de Janeiro.

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