Antenna Anomaly Could Affect SOHO Transmission
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite expects to experience a blackout in the transmission of its scientific data this week that will last for two to three weeks.
Engineers are predicting this problem after detecting a malfunction in the pointing mechanism of the satellite’s high-gain antenna, which is used to transmit the large amounts of data from SOHO’s scientific observations to Earth.
SOHO is located 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles) from Earth, slowly orbiting around the First Lagrangian point, where the combined gravity of the Earth and the sun keep SOHO in an orbit locked to the sun-Earth line. To transmit data, the SOHO high-gain antenna must rotate to have the Earth constantly in its field of view as the spacecraft and the Earth progress in their respective orbits.