The European Space Agency Engineers Keep Fixing Sentinel-1B Satellite

23rd May 2022
The European Space Agency Engineers Keep Fixing Sentinel-1B Satellite

European Space Agency engineers are trying to fix a problem with the Sentinel-1B satellite, launched in 2016 aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. The satellite is still in command, but the engineers suspect a potential ceramic capacitor leakage. Besides, problems with the C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (C-SAR) instrument has made the spacecraft useless.

What Went Wrong with Sentinel-1B Satellite?

The problems with leaky capacitors are not uncommon on the ground, but fixing them in orbit poses some challenges for the European Space Agency engineers. The capacitor is located on a satellite bus that supplies power to the spacecraft electronics. Right now, it is not clear what has caused the anomaly. On the bright side, the Sentinel-1B satellite sister, Sentinel-1A, is still fully functional and keeps performing its tasks.

European Space Agency on Repair Progress

The European Space Agency has been attempting to recover the Sentinel-1B satellite since the beginning of the year. At first, the European Space Agency engineers feared that the issue was permanent, but now, most believe that it can be fixed.

The engineers have made several attempts to switch the capacitor back on. Technically, all of the attempts were successful, but sadly, the capacitor did not say on for long – 4.4 seconds tops. This, however, still implies that the Sentinel-1B satellite is facing a degradation problem, not permanent damage.

Now that the ESA engineers have established the capacitor can be turned on, they will attempt to turn the spacecraft heaters on and off to vary the temperature aboard. Thomas Ormston, a spacecraft steerer, is confident that it is too early to write the Sentinel off.

Similar steps were already undertaken with ESA’s GOCE spacecraft in 2010. However, European Space Agency engineers are fairly certain that the Sentinel-1B satellite is experiencing another kind of problem that will hopefully soon be fixed.

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