RadarSat Dead, Solar Storm Erupts

Canada’s Radarsat 1 satellite stopped communicating with Earth in late March, and officials fear the satellite may be lost for good, the Canadian Space Agency announced Tuesday.

Controllers last heard from the spacecraft March 29, when engineers noticed Radarsat 1 was in safe mode, a semi-dormant state in which the spacecraft conserves energy, according to Michel Doyon, flight operations manager at the Canadian Space Agency. But soon after controllers noticed Radarsat 1 was in safe mode, the satellite went silent.

“We lost contact because it was out of battery power, and since then we’ve been trying various recovery procedures,” Doyon said in an interview. “It is related to the power distribution system, so the chance of continuing a nominal mission is low, but we’re still hoping to find a solution.”

RADARSAT-2 continues to provide critical, high-quality data.

The satellite launched more than 17 years ago, surpassing its five-year design life and establishing Canada as a world leader in radar imaging from orbit. It uses a Synthetic Aperture Radar at a single microwave frequency of 5.3 GHz. Unlike optical satellites that sense reflected sunlight, microwave energy can image the Earth, day or night, in any atmospheric condition, such as cloud cover, rain, snow, dust or haze.

Meanwhile, the biggest solar flare of the year has knocked out radio transmissions, reports C/Net.

Early this morning the sun erupted with the strongest solar storm of 2013, raising the prospect of solar radiation storms above the Earth, according to NASA. The resulting emissions sparked a short-lived radio communications blackout on Earth, although the radio disruption has since subsided.

The geomagneti storm is connected to the sun’s 11-year activity cycle. More intense solar eruptions are expected later in the year.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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