One of Europe’s most powerful Earth observation satellites is facing problems in space. Dubbed Sentinel-1B, it stopped transmitting data on December 23 after experiencing an unspecified “anomaly”, and attempts to correct the problem failed.
Sentinel-1B was launched into polar orbit (which crosses Earth’s poles) in April 2016, two years after its sister Sentinel-1A. It is part of the European Copernicus Earth Observation Program and uses radars to map our planet in high resolution for a “variety of uses” including environmental management, understanding and mitigation of climate change and population security.
The satellites have the fuel to operate for up to 12 years, and are estimated to have been collecting data for at least seven years. This means that 1B is nearing the “end” of life. According to an official statement from the European Space Agency, after this anomaly, engineers carefully planned to return to operations, including changes to the satellite’s configuration to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
But not everything went as planned. “During the preparation of the recovery operations, it became clear that the initial anomaly was the result of a potentially serious problem with a module in the Sentinel-1B satellite power system. Operations carried out in recent days have so far failed to reactivate one of the functions of the electrical power source necessary for operations using the radar. ”
“Further investigations to identify and address the root causes of the problem will take place in the coming days,” the statement said.
The Sentinel program currently has nine orbiting satellites (1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 5P, 5 and 6A), which map continents and oceans using X-rays or optical cameras, as well as use instruments to perform analyses. Monitor the atmosphere and sea level. The data obtained is made freely available to all users and the public.
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