ESA Releases Diagrams Showing Galileo 5 and 6 Orbit

September 16, 2014  - By
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Galileo orbits viewed from above: Orbits of the fifth and sixth satellites in red, compared to their intended position in dashed green, and the position of the four satellites launched in 2011 and 2012 in solid green. This view looks down over the South Pole to illustrate how the inclination relative to the equator is less than intended. The satellites are in an elliptical rather than circular orbit, with a maximum altitude of about 25,900 km and a minimum altitude of about 13,700 km, compared to a planned circular orbit of 23,222 km altitude.  Photo: ESA

Galileo orbits viewed from above: Orbits of the fifth and sixth satellites in red, compared to their intended position in dashed green, and the position of the four satellites launched in 2011 and 2012 in solid green. This view looks down over the South Pole to illustrate how the inclination relative to the equator is less than intended. The satellites are in an elliptical rather than circular orbit, with a maximum altitude of about 25,900 km and a minimum altitude of about 13,700 km, compared to a planned circular orbit of 23,222 km altitude. Photo: ESA

The fifth and sixth Galileo satellites have been in a safe state since August 28, under control from ESA’s center in Darmstadt, Germany, despite having been released on August 22 into lower and elliptical orbits instead of the expected circular orbits. The European Space Agency has released two diagrams showing the orbits.

ESA said that the potential of exploiting the satellites to maximum advantage, despite their unplanned injection orbits and within the limited propulsion capabilities, is being investigated. Various ESA specialists, supported by industry and France’s CNES space agency, are analyzing different scenarios that would yield maximum value for the program, and safeguard — as much as possible — the original mission objectives.

More detailed analysis, alongside consultations with industry, is under way, checking for a potential “improved orbit” where the satellites could both provide operational services.

Galileo orbits viewed side-on: The fifth and sixth Galileo satellites in red, compared to their intended position in dashed green, and the position of the four satellites launched in 2011 and 2012, in solid green. This view looks side on to the two satellites’ orbital plane, which is off-center relative to Earth. The targeted orbit was circular, inclined at 55º to the equator at an altitude of 23,222 km.They are in a safe state, correctly pointing towards the Sun, properly powered and fully under control of an ESA–CNES team. Photo: ESA

Galileo orbits viewed side-on: The fifth and sixth Galileo satellites in red, compared to their intended position in dashed green, and the position of the four satellites launched in 2011 and 2012, in solid green. This view looks side on to the two satellites’ orbital plane, which is off-center relative to Earth. The targeted orbit was circular, inclined at 55º to the equator at an altitude of 23,222 km.They are in a safe state, correctly pointing towards the Sun, properly powered and fully under control of an ESA–CNES team. Photo: ESA

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