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ESA Declares Flagship Envisat Observing Satellite Lost

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the going-dark dept.

Earth 39

An anonymous reader writes with news that the European Space Agency has lost contact with its Envisat environmental satellite mere weeks after celebrating a full decade in orbit. Engineers have spent the last month trying to re-establish contact, and will continue to do so for another two months. "With ten sophisticated sensors, Envisat has observed and monitored Earth’s land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps during its ten-year lifetime, delivering over a thousand terabytes of data. An estimated 2500 scientific publications so far have been based on this information, furthering our knowledge of the planet." The ESA was hoping Envisat would stay operational for another two years, until Sentinel satellites from the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security initiative became operational.

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39 comments

No problem (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#39967915)

we'll just fix it during a Shuttle mission...

Re:No problem (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#39968295)

If we had a Star Tram running it would be trivial to fix. Seriously, $2 billion and poof! Gone, no way to retrieve or repair it. This really underlines the ridiculous state of our global space industry.

Re:No problem (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39968477)

"Lost"? Yeah, right. This is just to cover up some data that would have embarrassed the global warming proponents.

Re:No problem (2)

b00le (714402) | about 2 years ago | (#39969819)

Maybe you're just trying to be funny. Envisat did much to establish the facts and mechanisms of climate change. There's no conspiracy: it grew old and died.

Re:No problem (4, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#39968579)

The original projected lifespan was five years. We got ten out of it. I don't think that anyone is going to hang himself over this.

Re:No problem (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#39968463)

Why? Even if a Space Shuttle were available right now, it would be much cheaper to launch a new satellite to gain those extra years. With a great likelihood, it would last much longer than those wished-for extra two years, and the amortized cost of the first two years of the new sat's lifespan would be lower than the atrocious cost of launching the Shuttle and training the crew to do the repairs (do we even know what's wrong with the sat, as we can't communicate with it?), not to mention the risk of radiation belts exposure at >700 km of altitude. It may also turn out that the damage is irreparable - in that case you've wasted, say, $700M+ for nothing.

Re:No problem (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#39970675)

Why? Even if a Space Shuttle were available right now, it would be much cheaper to launch a new satellite to gain those extra years.

Given that a Shuttle launch only costs around $150m* USD, I suspect you're way off base. Doubly so since it cost 2.5 *billion* dollars to develop and launch in the first place. Now, admittedly you're not going to pay the full development costs the second time around, but you're still looking at probably 3-500 million plus for the new bird and nearly 200 million for the launch alone.

*That's what it costs to add a flight to the manifest.

Re:No problem (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#39970873)

Given that a Shuttle launch only costs around $150m* USD, I suspect you're way off base.

Have any sources? I do. [nasa.gov]

Re:No problem (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#39973165)

That's the cost including the share of the fixed annual cost - I.E., an accounting fiction, not the actual amount that would be in the budget. As with any source, you have to be aware of the accuracy and assumptions behind it.

See: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/space/controversy/ [faqs.org] for more information, or google about for "cost to add a shuttle flight to the manifest".

Re:No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39977239)

The true accounting fiction here is to pretend that the fixed annual cost doesn't have to be paid. If you want a somewhat real number of what the cost will be, how about paying for the whole required start-up of the shuttle program, or for a hypothetical maintenance mode of the program to have kept it running since the last launch.

Re:No problem (1)

b00le (714402) | about 2 years ago | (#39969771)

The shuttle couldn't reach its orbit, and if it could, the satellite was not designed to be worked on in orbit (unlike Hubble), and even if neither of those things were true, nobody would think it a good idea to spend around a billion dollars to try and fix a satellite 5 years past its design life span, with no idea what's wrong with it. Satellites die. Move on.

Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (3, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | about 2 years ago | (#39967917)

BTW - hows that whole ROHS thing working out for you?

(I know, aerospace components have an ROHS waiver, but when we order stuff from Europe and try to use the ROHS waiver they still send us ROHS anyways half the time)

Re:Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (0)

kdawson (3715) (1344097) | about 2 years ago | (#39967991)

The good of the many outweighs the godo of the few. Lead and dangerous chemicals is dangerous end of story!

Re:Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (2)

pecosdave (536896) | about 2 years ago | (#39968243)

Yeah, you have NO IDEA how worried I am about a Voyager Spacecraft crashing into the Earth and contaminating it with minerals that came from it......

Re:Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (3, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#39968313)

Dangerous chemicals, wakalixes, same thing. Your body is full of dangerous chemicals. Just inject yourself with some extra insulin and tell me how it goes. It's 100% natural and comes from your own body!

Where it comes to leaded PCB assemblies, you're wholly and saldy misinformed [sigcon.com] . Non-leaded PCB assemblies have bigger environmental impact due to a confluence of reasons. Any of those reasons by itself is perhaps a minor thing, but when taken together they are quite significant.

Re:Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#39968329)

Is this the real kdawson? Look at that comment history. Wow.

Someone broke the account, or he just outright snapped.

Re:Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#39968499)

Look at the name of the account in the URL. There's some character trickery going on.

Re:Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39968681)

No it isn't the real kdawson.

The real kdawson has the username "kdawson" and the UID 3715
This poster above has the username "kdawson (3715)" and the UID 1344097

Re:Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39968825)

Don't forget to ban those er annn'i oxidants. Terrible things, trying to steal all that oxygen from your bodies.
Why these things were ever approved is beyond me. Population control I tell ye!

Re:Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39969269)

Wait, what? You're telling me a million dollar space ship can't get the right type of solder?

Re:Not EVERYTHING can be a Voyager Spacecraft. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about 2 years ago | (#39971483)

Remember, this is a European satellite, they're the ones really pushing ROHS. Many US Companies have adopted it, for various reasons including but not limited to making it easier to do business with Europe.

My particular reference was to NASA. Sometimes, according to testing facility that was established to make sure vendors weren't ripping us off like they did when the door fell off a shuttle, when they check solder on boards ordered from Europe specifying lead solder only with the aerospace waiver, they still come in ROHS. ROHS is BAD for aerospace applications, it tends to break under vibration where lead will hold up.

When we make our own stuff I guarantee you we have lead solder, usually SN-63 where I'm at.

Over a Petabyte of Pixelated Back-Yard Porn?? (1)

anom (809433) | about 2 years ago | (#39967945)

Impressive!

Re:Over a Petabyte of Pixelated Back-Yard Porn?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39968089)

I think it's quite certainly not 1,024 TB or they would have said a petabyte.

Instead it's "over 1000", which could be 1,001. Watch out for sales speak. If they could say petabyte I think they would use it.

Re:Over a Petabyte of Pixelated Back-Yard Porn?? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39968201)

The prefix peta (P) indicates the fifth power of 1000. I think they didn't use it because ordinary people aren't familiar with it.

Re:Over a Petabyte of Pixelated Back-Yard Porn?? (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#39968901)

... or because the combination of Peta and nekkid people might give people the wrong image...

Re:Over a Petabyte of Pixelated Back-Yard Porn?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39969235)

you'd make a good hard drive salesman

Re:Over a Petabyte of Pixelated Back-Yard Porn?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39986813)

Thanks! I suppose you would measure hard drives size in pebibytes, and call it "petabytes"? Sneaky saleman!

Re:Over a Petabyte of Pixelated Back-Yard Porn?? (2)

b00le (714402) | about 2 years ago | (#39969861)

Synthetic Aperture radar porn with a 30 metre pixel size - kind of a specialised taste.

Re:Over a Petabyte of Pixelated Back-Yard Porn?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39970023)

Oooooh, talk dirty some more.

Re:Over a Petabyte of Pixelated Back-Yard Porn?? (2)

b00le (714402) | about 2 years ago | (#39971419)

ASAR, MERIS, AATSR, MWR, GOMOS, MIPAS, SCIAMACHY, DORIS, LRR (https://earth.esa.int/web/guest/missions/esa-operational-eo-missions/envisat/instruments) - although only the first two gave anything that could be called an image. Maybe "integrated atmospheric water vapour column" sounds promising...

Destroyed by climate denialists (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#39968037)

Using powerful waves of stupid aimed through a waveguide. Rush Limbaugh, Lord Monckton and Anthony Watts all donned the stupid-conduction helmets to power the weapon while doing their best supervillain laugh.

Re:Destroyed by climate denialists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39969407)

Really? So you believe in the new green religion? But your still posting and using electricity? Right? So your just a talker and NOT A DOER? Stop using electricity, stop driving your car etc etc, let the rest of us live in civilization. Your a fool and easily lead. At least this thing being lost will help stop this fairy tale!

Re:Destroyed by climate denialists (3, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#39969725)

I'm posting from a low-power PC in an office building with a gray water system and I drive a short commute with 30-40MPG cars. You're the one who's talking about destroying civilization and not doing anything.

I really want to get my PDA onto solar-only just for such posts.

The Warranty Ran Out (3, Funny)

Immerial (1093103) | about 2 years ago | (#39970231)

Let me guess... it had a 10-year warranty. See, this is why you need to buy the extended warranty for satellites. ;^)
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