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Battery failure confirmed: latest transmission from a NASA spacecraft

Battery failure confirmed: latest transmission from a NASA spacecraft

After 15 years in space, NASA’s AIM mission is coming to an end. A battery failure makes further communication with the Explorer 90 spacecraft impossible. This was announced already in 2019 – and since then the failure has been mainly predictable.

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It was only a matter of time before NASA’s Project AIM spacecraft could transmit data. However, NASA is pleased that Explorer 90 has held up well so far.

The AIM project—AIM for Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere—originally began in 2007 and was planned for only two years of operation. Since then, the probe has been orbiting the Earth in a polar orbit observing noctilucent clouds.

Operational support has ended

in one Short blog post NASA announced this week that it will end operational support for the probe due to a battery failure.

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NASA first noticed the problems with the AIM battery in 2019, but the probe was still sending a large amount of data back to Earth. So, only recently the project was officially extended until September 2023 and then they wanted to see more. However, after a further drop in battery power, the probe could no longer be processed. The AIM team will continue to monitor the lander for an additional two weeks to allow for a restart, but sees no opportunity to do so.

Exploration of the mesosphere has made great progress as a result of the project. The data already collected and analyzed by AIM has been published in more than 300 publications, including a recent study from 2018, which found that methane emissions from human-caused climate change trigger night shifts as more and more luminous clouds form.

summary

  • NASA’s AIM mission ended after 15 years due to a battery failure
  • The project began in 2007, planned for only two years.
  • 2019 first problems with the battery, but the investigation is still sending data.
  • Now the probe is no longer available.
  • The data has been published in more than 300 publications.

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