According to a recently released statement, the European Space Agency (ESA) has decided to suspend all regular operations of four of its scientific missions, including a recently launched spacecraft. The decision was made to reduce staffing needs as the pandemic unfolds, and was announced on Tuesday, March 24. ESA puts the missions on hold. According to an ESA statement, the space agency is putting its space science mission Cluster of Four satellites on Earth orbit into a "temporary standby mode", along with the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, and the Mars Express orbiter. And while all of these missions will suspend scientific operations for now, all four will go into safe mode. Furthermore, the duration of these suspensions will depend on the pandemic. According to ESA, the decision to suspend these scientific missions is to help reduce staffing requirements at its operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, in direct response to the pandemic. At the moment, the four scientific missions are part of the 15 missions that the center operates. "Our priority is the health of our workforce, and therefore we will reduce activity on some of our scientific missions, especially on interplanetary spacecraft, which currently require the largest number of personnel on site," said Rolf Densing, director of ESA operations, in an attached statement. "Turning off your scientific instruments and placing them in a largely unattended safe configuration for a certain period will have a negligible impact on your overall mission performance," he added, explaining why the four missions that were suspended are long lasting in stable orbits.
Additionally, suspending these missions will also allow the agency to temporarily dedicate its limited staff to other missions, such as the BepiColombo mission to Mercury.
"We are confident that with very limited and infrequent interactions with ground control, missions can safely remain in that mode of operation for months if the duration of coronavirus mitigation measures requires it," said Paolo Ferri, head of mission operations at ESA. To that end, the US space agency NASA has also made similar moves. Space agencies like ESA and NASA have begun to suspend some of their operations amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo from Pixabay (CC0). (TagsToTranslate) that (t) four scientific missions (t) suspension (t) waiting temporarily (t) the spacecraft of the solar orbiter (t) the gas orbiter trace of exomars (t) express orbiter of mars (t) needs of staff (t) scientific missions (t) nasa (t) coronavirus (t) covid-19 (t) pandemic (t) coronavirus update (t) rupture