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GOCE satellite back in action

GOCE in orbit. Photo by ESA/AOES Medialab

PARIS (BNS): The GOCE gravity mission is now back in action after a serious communication malfunction that prevented the satellite from sending scietific data to the ground.

The satellite reported a problem on July 8 when it failed to downlink scientific data to its receiving stations, ESA said in its website.

Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) is the most advanced gravity mission to date, designed to map variations in Earth's gravity field with extreme detail and accuracy.

Investigations carried out by experts said the problem related to a communication link between the processor module and the telemetry modules of the main computer. This was fixed after software patches gained access to troubleshooting information via the slow trickle of data that was still reaching the GOCE ground stations.

"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, “ said Rune Floberghagen, ESA's GOCE Mission Manager.

"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," he said.

Since becoming operational in September 2009, GOCE has already delivered two-thirds of the gravity data expected from the mission.



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