ESA suspends Sentinel-1B satellite recovery attempts after months of outage

ESA ends mission of Copernicus satellite Sentinel-1B. This is announced by the European Space Agency. The satellite had been out of order for months. ESA wants to launch a replacement as soon as possible.

ESA writes Sentinel-1B suffered from a power outage to the scientific instruments since December 23, 2021. As a result, the satellite’s radar system could no longer be switched on. The space agency spent months trying to solve that problem, but eventually concluded that it was impossible to restore power. The space agency will therefore announce on Wednesday that it will stop the recovery attempts. With that, Sentinel-1B’s mission ends.

The space agency plans to push forward the launch of a replacement, Sentinel-1C. This should happen in the second quarter of 2023, in collaboration with Arianespace. Sentinel-1A’s observation plan is being adjusted in the meantime to take over part of the work. ESA can also use data from other satellite projects, such as Canada’s Radarsat and Radarsat-2, Germany’s TerraSAR-X, Italy’s Cosmo-SkyMed and Spain’s PAZ. ESA indicates it is preparing to responsibly remove Sentinel-1B from its orbit. This is possible because, apart from the radar, Sentinel-1B is still fully functional.

Sentinel-1B was launched in 2016 as part of Copernicus, a European satellite network for Earth observation. Copernicus is divided into five different Sentinel parts, each containing one or two satellites. For example, the Sentinel-1 mission consists of two satellites that together form an aperture synthesis radar. These satellites make observations in the C-band with their radars, so they can always take images of the earth, regardless of things like the weather, cloud cover or time of day. These images are used, among other things, to map the state of the polar ice and seawater.

ESA’s Sentinel-1. Source: ESA/ATG Medialab