Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Focus on space debris: Envisat

12.10.2012
Space debris came into focus last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Naples, Italy. Envisat, ESA’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 represent 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 man-made disasters.

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

Robert Meisner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.esa.int
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Envisat/SEMP053S18H_0.html

Further reports about: ENVISAT ESA Earth observation Earth's magnetic field Space space debris

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>