going beyond expectations for global vegetation monitoring
PROBA-V 100 m image of Thabhloten, Saudi-Arabia
That summer we thought we lost our satellite
Roberto Biasutti
- Payload Data Ground Segment Operational Manager European Space Agency - ESRIN

“Everything started with a message from the Collision Risk Assessment Support by ESA ESOC Space Debris Office reporting a possible collision of PROBA-V with a space debris. Foreseen time, Saturday 25 August 2018 around 12 UTC.

The probability of collision was quite high (0.003) with an overall miss distance of less than 100 m. Being PROBA-V without thrusters, we cannot make any avoidance moves. We just need to cross our fingers and hope for the best.

On Saturday, right after the foreseen collision time, we had a successful contact with the Redu station, so everything seemed fine. But at the next contact with Kiruna station we had no life sign from the satellite. The same for the next pass and all other of the day. I tried to contact the stations, but being Saturday (evening), I did not get any answer. The hypothesis was that the debris hit the satellite solar panels and therefore once the battery ended its charge the satellite was lost.

So I sadly send the bad news to all the ESA management and VITO about the very high probability that we lost our satellite.

Suddenly on Sunday morning, the satellite downlink its data to Kiruna, as if nothing happened! The satellite simply went in save mode and resumed the morning after ... I think it is the first case of a scared satellite !!”

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