Washington: The Swarm satellites have completed its first critical phase of their new mission, reaching a significant milestone for ESA`s magnetic field mission.
Over the weekend, ground controllers at ESA`s European Space Operations Centre in Germany shepherded the three satellites through multiple checks, ensuring that all systems were working as expected.
The fog-shrouded launch of Swarm on November 22 brought the three satellites into orbit at about 490 km altitude, marking the start of Swarm`s.
This latest Earth observation mission is tasked with delivering exacting data to improve our understanding of how our planet`s magnetic field is generated and why it changes.
Immediately following separation, the three satellites started transmitting their first signals to Earth, marking the start of the critical `launch and early orbit phase`, known as LEOP.
"After separation, we acquired signals from the first two Swarm satellites 91 minutes into the mission, followed by the third at the 95-minute mark, all precisely as planned," Juan Pineiro, Spacecraft Operations Manager, said.
"This marked the start of LEOP, and the mission team was in the Main Control Room around the clock. Everything has gone very well, and I am very proud of the strong teamwork and dedication shown by everyone," he said.
The highlight of LEOP came around midnight on Friday, when each of the three satellites deployed their 4 m-long booms carrying instruments essential to the mission`s scientific success.
The rest of the weekend was spent configuring and checking out the satellites` systems, including power and thermal, attitude and orientation control and onboard data handling.
The three identical satellites are in excellent health, and are now operating in `fine pointing mode`, in which the startrackers and GPS navigation are switched on.