Commercial aerospace company Arianespace which launched the SES-14 satellite carrying NASA’s GOLD mission on Friday confirmed that despite an anomaly during the mission’s ride into orbit, the probe is continuing. The aim of the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, mission is to study the dynamic region where space and Earth’s uppermost atmosphere meet.
“The launcher’s liftoff took place on January 25, 2018, at 5:20 pm EST. A few seconds after ignition of the upper stage, the second tracking station located in Natal, Brazil, did not acquire the launcher telemetry. This lack of telemetry lasted throughout the rest of powered flight,” Arianespace said in the statement.
“Subsequently, both satellites were confirmed separated, acquired and they are on orbit. SES-14 and Al Yah 3 are communicating with their respective control centres. Both missions are continuing,” the statement added. The GOLD mission aims to explore in unprecedented detail our near-space environment, which is home to astronauts, radio signals used to guide airplanes and ships, and satellites that provide communications and GPS systems.
“The more we know about the fundamental physics of this region of space, the more we can protect our assets there,” NASA said. “The upper atmosphere is far more variable than previously imagined, but we don’t understand the interactions between all the factors involved,” Richard Eastes, GOLD principal investigator from the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a statement.
“That’s where GOLD comes in: For the first time, the mission gives us the big picture of how different drivers meet and influence each other,” Eastes added.