The European Space Agency’s communications with the Envisat satellite are still down after 5 consecutive days of no feedback from the largest Earth-observation satellite out in orbit. The 8-ton heavy Envisat has been in orbit for the past 10 years, double the amount of time it was expected to stay up operational. It has orbited the Earth more than 50,000 times recording images and information of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and other features, sending the data back to thousands of research sites.
A recovery team made up of specialists and engineers was set up by the European Space Agency to try to revive communications with Envisat which is still in stable orbit around the Earth.
ESA stated that it is not aware of the causes behind the absence of the link between Envisat and stations on Earth. Some have speculated that Envisat’s solar panels are not functioning so as to cause the problem. All that is known is that Envisat was going over Sweden when the communication broke down.
At the time of writing, ESA has been pooling more tracking stations under ESA to assist in recovering the feedback from the satellite.
Envisat’s out-of-order episode has come almost in time for this year’s launch of the Sentinel satellites which are supposed to replace Envisat, and expand more on its duties.
Specifically, Sentinel 2 & Sentinel 3 will be launched at the end of this year to provide high-resolution images of the Earth’s oceans, lands and other geographical features.
Meanwhile, Sentinel 1 will be launched next year in 2013 to provide all-weather services and 24/7 radar imaging.
Sentinel 4 will be launched in the year 2017 to record atmospheric data.
Following Sentinel 4 will be Sentinel 5 which will also have the same responsibilities to fulfill as Sentinel 4 when it is launched in 2020 piggy-backing on a MetOp Second Generation satellite.
(Cover Photo: ESA/AFP/Getty Images)