Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

GOCE gravity mission back in action

Date:
September 8, 2010
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
ESA’s GOCE gravity mission has recovered from a glitch that prevented the satellite from sending its flow of scientific data to the ground. News of the recovery comes earlier than expected, thanks to the fervent efforts of a team of experts.

The first global gravity model based on GOCE satellite data was presented at ESA’s Living Planet Symposium. Based on only two months of data, from November and December 2009, it illustrates the excellent capability of GOCE to map tiny variations in Earth’s gravity field.
Credit: ESA - GOCE High Level Processing Facility

ESA's GOCE gravity mission has recovered from a glitch that prevented the satellite from sending its flow of scientific data to the ground. News of the recovery comes earlier than expected, thanks to the fervent efforts of a team of experts.

The recovery follows a serious communications malfunction on 8 July, when the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite suddenly failed to downlink scientific data to its receiving stations.

Extensive investigations by experts from ESA and industry revealed that the issue was almost certainly related to a communication link between the processor module and the telemetry modules of the main computer. These telemetry modules are situated between the processor board and the transmitters, forming a vital part of the onboard data handling and communications system.

Recovery from the situation came after software patches gained access to troubleshooting information via the slow trickle of data that was still reaching the GOCE ground stations. This new information allowed the team to develop an understanding of the state of all the onboard systems. As part of the action plan, the temperature of the floor hosting the computers was raised by some 7C -- resulting in restoration of normal communications.

Plans are in place should the communications system experience the same glitch in the future. Software patches are now being developed to allow the two onboard computers to work in unison.

Volker Liebig, Director of ESA's Earth Observation Programmes, said, "We are very glad that one of the most innovative missions of ESA is back on track. I would like to congratulate and thank the teams from ESA and especially industry.

"I often get questions from journalists as to whether ESA satellites are not over-designed, with their redundancies and long lifetimes. This case shows how important it is to have these margins in case of problems. Consequently, we can now deliver scientists the full scientific programme."

The issue is not the first hiccup that GOCE has experienced since its launch in March 2009. In February 2010, a chip problem in the main computer meant that operators had to switch over to the satellite's backup computer system. There is, however, at present no evidence of any relationship between the two problems that have affected GOCE.

Orbiting through the outer remnants of Earth's atmosphere to sense the strongest gravity signal possible, GOCE is the most advanced gravity mission to date, designed to map variations in Earth's gravity field with extreme detail and accuracy.

Since becoming operational in September 2009, GOCE has already delivered two-thirds of the gravity data expected from the mission. Consequently, scientists worldwide already have a huge and immensely valuable dataset that will redefine our understanding of Earth's gravity field.

Moreover, with GOCE having regained its full capacity, it is hoped to continue the mission far beyond the end of the designated lifetime in 2011 -- the satellite operations have, so far, required much less fuel than expected.

Rune Floberghagen, ESA's GOCE Mission Manager, said, "On 6 September the main instrument, the gradiometer, which measures the spatial variations in the gravity field in extreme detail, has also been switched on and shown to be fully functional.

"With everything back in proper working order, the satellite is now being gently brought back down to its operational status and altitude. This should be achieved before the end of September."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "GOCE gravity mission back in action." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907071355.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2010, September 8). GOCE gravity mission back in action. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907071355.htm
European Space Agency. "GOCE gravity mission back in action." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907071355.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins