The satellite, already in orbit for 41 months — 14 months beyond its original mission design life — will continue to provide critical data to all of the ground users experimenting with Galileo navigation signals. The European Space Agency (ESA) recently approved an extension of the GIOVE-A mission for a further twelve months, which provides for operations to be supported to the end of March 2010. GIOVE-A carries radiation monitoring instruments which gather invaluable data which is processed and analysed to assist experts characterise the environment in the Galileo orbit, one of the primary objectives of the GIOVE missions.
During routine maintenance on April 28th, an anomaly was discovered onboard GIOVE-A, which required payload transmissions to be temporarily switched off. Full operations were returned on May 27th, with the broadcast of L1-E5 navigation signals, and there has been no impact on the ability of GIOVE-A to continue supporting payload operations. Launched on December 28th, 2005, GIOVE-A was designed and built by SSTL within a 30-month, 28M Euro contract. The 600kg satellite had four mission objectives:
- To secure the frequencies allocated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for the Galileo system
- To demonstrate critical technologies for the navigation payload of future operational Galileo satellites
- To provide representative Galileo signals in space to support experimentation activities
- To characterize the radiation environment of the orbits planned for the Galileo constellation