Sunday, March 18, 2012

Diagrams of Wayward Galileo Satellites Released

 

The ESA has released diagrams showing the intended and actual orbit of the two Galileo satellites that were launched last month into the wrong orbit. And, as you can see from the images, they’re quite a bit off. Reports indicated the satellites were nearly 2,000 miles off-target. The reason for the anomalous orbit hasn’t been formally announced yet.

Below is one of two diagrams released. This side view of the current orbit of the satellite. The dashed line represents the intended orbit, and the red line is the actual orbit. The solid green lines are the other functioning Galileo satellites, launched in 2011 and 2012.

Galileo_orbits_viewed_side-on

The next diagram is shown from the South pole. Once again, the red line is the actual orbit, with the dashed line representing the expected orbit. The solid lines are other functioning Galileo satellites launched in previous years. The current orbit of the satellites is elliptical instead of circular.

Galileo_orbits_viewed_from_above

The satellites were reported to be safe and functioning despite being in the incorrect spot. They are currently under the control of the ESA in Germany, and investigation into  to using the satellites despite their incorrect location is ongoing. There have also been talks of towing or somehow moving the satellites to the correct orbit, but a formal plan has not been announced.

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