Decommissioned Earth Science Satellite to Remain in Orbit for Decades

Mar 29, 2017

By Jeff Foust

WASHINGTON — A NASA Earth science satellite whose mission is ending this week will remain in orbit through the middle of the century, far longer than the limit set by orbital debris mitigation guidelines.

NASA announced earlier this month that it was shutting down the Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) spacecraft on March 30. NASA launched the spacecraft in November 2000 as part of its New Millennium technology demonstration program, originally for a one-year mission.

NASA, in cooperation with several other agencies, extended the life of EO-1 several times, with a final decision in the 2015 senior review of extended NASA Earth science missions to terminate the mission. That decision was made in part on the precession of the spacecraft’s orbit that made its data less useful. [Earth From Space: Classic NASA Photos]

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One comment on “Decommissioned Earth Science Satellite to Remain in Orbit for Decades”

  • @OP – EO-1, however, will not comply with another standard practice that calls for spacecraft in low Earth orbit to reenter within 25 years of the end of its mission. NASA, in a statement earlier this month about the decommissioning of EO-1, estimates the spacecraft will reenter in 2056, 39 years from now.

    Given that it is in a trackable orbit, – taking a few years longer for the orbit to degrade and the satellite to burn up, seems a good trade-off for the many extra years of useful life and the valuable data collected.

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