Feeds

Did dicky power supply silence climate-change probe Envisat?

Or had the silent craft seen enough of our planet?

High performance access to file storage

Pic The European Space Agency has all but given up hope of contacting its long-lived Envisat mission, a month after the satellite went silent.

Artist's impression of Envisat

Artist's impression of Envisat. Credit: ESA

Communication with the environment-watching craft suddenly halted on 8 April. Engineers tried to regain control by continuously firing commands from a wide network of ground stations - but Envisat never answered.

The agency says there were no signs of degradation with the satellite before it went AWOL, so they have been trying to figure out what could have gone wrong. It is possible the onboard power regulator snuffed it, which would knock out telemetry and communications electronics.

Another theory is that the satellite short-circuited, triggering its safe-mode to ensure its survival, but something went wrong on the path to safe mode, leaving Envisat in some unknown state.

Although the boffins will keep trying to call Envisat for the next two months, the chances of recovery are now extremely low.

Phytoplankton bloom captured by Envisat

Phytoplankton bloom captured by Envisat. Credit: ESA

The ESA had hoped that the satellite would last until the follow-on Sentinel missions came online, the first of which is due next year, but it still got its money's worth: Envisat had already been snapping shots of Earth for double its planned lifetime, ten years instead of five, and the agency estimates that 2,500 scientific publications have been based on its data so far.

The satellite was sent up to gather information on our planet's environment and has sent back enough numbers to keep both sides of the climate debate arguing for a while yet. It monitored global sea levels and temperatures, the Arctic sea ice, air pollution and holes in the ozone layer, as well as other environmental indicators.

As well as giving its pics to scientists, Envisat also provided data to folks dealing with natural and manmade disasters including floods, fires and oil spills. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.