Scientists blame the Sun for failures of satellites and spacecrafts. According to them, the sun spawns solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other space weather events, which can send highly energized particles racing toward Earth. These high-speed eruptions of charged particles are likely to be blamed for the failures of space missions and satellites.
A team of MIT researchers investigated the space weather conditions to better understand these celestial disturbances. These probes were carried at the time of 26 failures in eight geostationary satellites operated by the London-based company Inmarsat.
The findings of the study were more glaring. It says, most of the glitches between 1996 and 2012 coincided with high-energy electron activity during declining phases of the solar cycle. Scientists believe that these charged particles may have accumulated in the satellites over time. Even if the spacecrafts and satellites have protective shielding, the buildup likely caused internal charging that damaged the satellites’ amplifiers, which are needed to strengthen and relay a signal back to Earth.
“Once you get into a 15-year mission, you may run out of redundant amplifiers,” study researcher Whitney Lohmeyer, a aeronautics and astronautics graduate student at MIT, said in a statement. “If a company has invested over $200 million in a satellite, they need to be able to assure that it works for that period of time. We really need to improve our method of quantifying and understanding the space environment, so we can better improve design.”
The study is detailed in the journal Space Weather.