NASA’s GOLD satellite in orbit despite launch anomaly

The satellite is communicating with control systems after initial launch anomaly.
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The satellite is communicating with control systems after initial launch anomaly.

NASA’s GOLD satellite is in orbit despite launch anomaly and is now communicating with control systems.

French Commercial aerospace company Arianespace which launched the SES-14 satellite carrying NASA’s GOLD mission on Thursday confirmed that despite an anomaly during the mission’s ride into orbit, the probe is continuing.

The aim of NASA’s Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, mission is to study the dynamic region where space and Earth’s uppermost atmosphere meet. Resulting data will improve forecasting models of the space weather events that can impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.

“The launcher’s lift off took place on January 25, 2018, at 5:20 pm EST. A few seconds after ignition of the upper stage, the second tracking station located in Natal, Brazil, did not acquire the launcher telemetry. This lack of telemetry lasted throughout the rest of powered flight,” Arianespace said in the statement. “Subsequently, both satellites were confirmed separated, acquired and they are on orbit. SES-14 and Al Yah 3 are communicating with their respective control centres. Both missions are continuing.”

GOLD scans the entirety of the Earth’s disk every half hour.

The GOLD mission which is first NASA science mission to fly an instrument as a commercially hosted payload.aims to explore in unprecedented detail our near-space environment, which is home to astronauts, radio signals used to guide airplanes and ships, and satellites that provide communications and GPS systems. 

“The more we know about the fundamental physics of this region of space, the more we can protect our assets there,” NASA said. “The upper atmosphere is far more variable than previously imagined, but we don’t understand the interactions between all the factors involved,” Richard Eastes, GOLD principal investigator from the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a statement. “That’s where GOLD comes in: For the first time, the mission gives us the big picture of how different drivers meet and influence each other,” Eastes added.