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Radio news and views

Post by Linnea » 06-19-2003 11:11 PM

The Sun-observing SOHO spacecraft is experiencing a serious problem that reduces its ability to transmit data to Earth and could threaten the mission's science efforts.

The craft's high-gain antenna does not move properly, engineers said yesterday. In an internal NASA memo obtained by today, an official warned scientists to prepare for up to six weeks without images and data from the probe.

That would mean regularly updated photographs of the Sun, such as those in's Sun Cams, would not arrive. The craft is tasked with monitoring space weather than can trouble other satellites and even effect ground communications and power stations on Earth. Its images have also been used to find more than 600 comets, many on death plunges into the Sun. Many scientists use SOHO data to learn more about how the Sun works.

If the problem cannot be fixed, the spacecraft will at best be reduced to a much lower level of performance through the duration of its mission. article

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