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Plasma probe scientists ready for Rosetta blast-off

Scientists who built and will control the instruments to investigate plasma changes around a comet describe their contribution to the ten year long mission at a pre-launch press briefing in London today. While the actual launch date for the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission has yet to be confirmed, the scientists, engineers and technicians behind the plasma-detecting instruments on board the spacecraft are all ready to begin the journey to comet Wirtanen they hope will return a rich scientific bounty.

GPS technology to help the blind

A new navigation tool to help blind people find their way around city streets is soon to be tested under a European Space Agency project. The hand-held device incorporates ESA's new satellite navigation technologies into the personal navigator for blind people. At present, satellite navigation based on GPS and without the use of inertial systems, is not accurate enough to guide pedestrians, especially around cities. When few GPS satellites are in view because of tall buildings, positioning accuracy can be little better than 30 to 40 m. ESA's EGNOS system, however, improves the accuracy of GPS positions to a few metres, making it sensitive enough to locate obstacles in the street.

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