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Antenna glitch threatens SOHO mission
Posted: Thu, Jun 19, 2003, 10:34 AM ET (1434 GMT)
SOHO spacecraft illustration (ESA) A problem with the high-gain antenna on the NASA-ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft could drastically reduce the amount of data the spacecraft can return. A SOHO status report published this week noted that a problem with the antenna drive motor is preventing it from moving so it can remain pointed at the Earth. A number of efforts have been taken to date to try to get the antenna to move, without success. Project officials are planning to put the spacecraft's instruments into a safe mode for the next four to six weeks while working on the problem. If the antenna motor cannot be fixed, the spacecraft can still communicate with the Earth using a low-gain antenna, but this would greatly reduce the amount of data it can return. Spacecraft controllers are looking at other options, including maneuvering the spacecraft to allow the high-gain antenna to be in line with the Earth two months out of every three, or altering the spacecraft’s orbit around the Earth-Sun L1 point to increase coverage time.
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