Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Focus on space debris: Envisat

Date:
October 11, 2012
Source:
European Space Agency (ESA)
Summary:
Space debris came into focus last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Naples, Italy. Envisat, the European Space Agency's largest Earth observation satellite, ended its mission last spring and was a subject of major interest in the Space Debris and Legal session.

Space debris came into focus last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Naples, Italy. Envisat, The European Space Agency's largest Earth observation satellite, ended its mission last spring and was a subject of major interest in the Space Debris and Legal session.

Envisat was planned and designed in 1987-1990, a time when space debris was not considered to be a serious problem and before the existence of mitigation guidelines, established by the UN in 2007 and adopted the next year by ESA for all of its projects.

Only later, during the post-launch operational phase, did Envisat's orbit of about 780 km become a risky debris environment, particularly following the Chinese antisatellite missile test in 2007 and the collision between the Iridium and the Cosmos satellites in 2009.

Lowering Envisat to an orbit that would allow reentry within 25 years, however, was never an option because of its design and limited amount of fuel.

Even if controllers had lowered the satellite immediately after launch in 2002, there would not have been enough fuel to bring it down low enough -- to around 600 km -- where it could reenter within 25 years.

In 2010, part of the remaining fuel was used to lower the satellite slightly into a less crowded orbit at 768 km, while keeping enough reserve to provide collision avoidance for several years.

The lower orbit also ensured continuity of crucial Earth-observation data until the next generation of satellites -- the Sentinels -- are fully operational in 2013.

In April 2012, however, contact with Envisat was suddenly lost, preventing ESA from controlling the spacecraft and disrupting data provision to the international Earth observation user community.

ESA is strongly committed to reducing space debris. Today, the deorbiting of missions is taken into consideration during the development of future satellites, and during the operations of current satellites when technically feasible.

Indeed, ESA decided to terminate operations of the 16-year-old ERS-2 satellite in 2011 because there was still enough fuel to lower its orbit to about 570 km, allowing it to reenter well within 25 years.

During the last years of Envisat, ESA began to investigate new technology to deorbit space debris in a controlled fashion.

The problem of debris in low orbits is of paramount importance. ESA space debris represents about 0.5% of the more than 16 000 objects catalogued by the US surveillance network.

ESA is working together with other agencies to reinforce international cooperation in monitoring space debris and to study mitigation and remediation measures that will ensure the future of space endeavours.

During its extended operational lifetime, Envisat provided crucial Earth observation data not only to scientists, but also to many operational services, such as monitoring floods and oil spills.

Its data supported civil protection authorities in managing natural and human-made disasters.

An estimated 2500 scientific publications so far have been based on the data provided by the satellite during its ten-year life.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency (ESA). "Focus on space debris: Envisat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011134740.htm>.
European Space Agency (ESA). (2012, October 11). Focus on space debris: Envisat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011134740.htm
European Space Agency (ESA). "Focus on space debris: Envisat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011134740.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) — Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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