Today marks the end of the successful deorbiting of Europe’s first meteorological satellite in polar orbit, Metop-A, by Europe’s meteorological satellite agency, EUMETSAT, with support from Airbus.
Starting today, the satellite will spiral downward in progressively lower orbits until it disintegrates upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, a process that is expected to end within the next 25 years, in accordance with international standards on space debris mitigation.
The process of removing the satellite from its orbit began on 15 November, when the satellite began to be lowered so that its point of orbit closest to the Earth decreased from 817km to about 530km.
During the deorbiting process, an original experiment was run: the satellite performed a manoeuvre in which it flipped upside-down so that the instruments that normally scanned the Earth instead scanned deep space.
The data acquired during this manoeuvre will lead to an improved calibration of the monitored environment, providing a new baseline for data processing which can be applied retrospectively to all Metop data already received, as well as to new data from the entire lifetimes of the two remaining satellites in the EUMETSAT Polar System, Metop-B and Metop-C, expected to operate until 2027 and into the 2030s, respectively, which will increase the accuracy and consistency of the long-term climate data records.
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