[Satellite TODAY 05-10-12] The European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed May 9 it has called off the recovery efforts for its Earth-observing satellite Envisat and declared the satellite dead after a month of silence.
Envisat abruptly stopped communicating with ground stations on April 8. ESA said it made repeated attempts to restore contact, but could not revive the spacecraft.
“There are several possible explanations for Envisat’s unexpected demise,” ESA officials said in a statement. “The failure of a power regulator may be blocking the satellite’s telemetry and tele-command systems. There may have also been a short circuit on board that plunged Envisat into a protective ‘safe mode,’ then a second malfunction that left the satellite in an unknown state, incapable of receiving commands from Earth.”
Despite the loss, the Envisat mission was considered an enormous success for ESA. The $2.9 billion satellite was originally designed to take high-resolution photos of Earth for five years, but remained operational for nearly 10 years.