Spacewatch: deep space climate monitor back in business

New software brings Earth climate satellite back to life

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is operational again after being dark for about nine months. The satellite developed issues with its attitude control system last summer. This prompted operators at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to place it in a safe mode that protected the spacecraft from damage but also stopped it from returning data. Analysing the fault, operators have designed new software to allow DSCOVR to work despite the ongoing malfunction. This has been uploaded and the satellite has started to return science data once more. The mission is now fully operational.

Launched on 11 February 2015, DSCOVR operates about 1.5m km away from Earth, sitting between the Sun and our planet. It takes images of the whole Earth which are used to monitor clouds and vegetation, atmospheric ozone and aerosols. It also monitors the particles discharged from the Sun that create space weather. Magnetic storms in this space weather can have an adverse effect on electricity networks, communications and navigation systems on Earth. DSCOVR is the US’s principal warning system for such events and in its absence the ageing Nasa spacecraft Ace (Advanced Composition Explorer) fulfilled this role.

Continue reading...