ESA’s GOCE Satellite Experiences Software Glitch

[Satellite TODAY 08-24-10] The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite, designed to map Earth’s gravitational field, has experienced a software glitch that has rendered the spacecraft unable to send transmissions back to Earth, the agency announced Aug. 23.
    ESA officials said the glitch was first detected in late July and that technicians are working on a patch that will be installed via radio link by September.
This is not the first time the satellite has experienced technical difficulties. In February, a primary computer chip on the spacecraft failed, forcing GOCE’s engineers to switch the satellite over to its backup computer.
    GOCE, manufactured by Astrium and launched in March 2009, aims to monitor variations in Earth’s gravity caused by ocean trenches, mountains and differences in density to predict how these changes could affect global warming.

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