Launched from Kourou in French Guiana on the night of 28 February 2002, ESA’s Envisat spacecraft marks its fifth year in space. Having orbited Earth more than 26 000 times, the world’s largest and most complex environmental satellite ever launched has travelled a distance of more than 1 000 000 000 kilometres, nearly the equivalent of travelling to Jupiter and back.
Generating some 280 Gigabytes of data products daily, Envisat has gathered 500 Terabytes to date. The amount of data returned by Envisat’s suite of 10 instruments is providing scientists with a global picture of our environment and is helping to fulfil the initial needs of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative until the launch of the Sentinel satellites.
Results of ongoing research projects using data from Envisat, as well as other ESA satellites, will be presented at the 2007 Envisat Symposium in Montreux, Switzerland, from 23 to 27 April. This anniversary is particularly important because it marks the end of Envisat’s nominal lifetime, as the satellite was initially only intended to stay in orbit for five years. However, given the overall excellent standing of the satellite, the ESA Member States have agreed to fund the mission operations until 2010.
Explore further: Spacewalking astronauts finish extensive, trick cable job