The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is gearing up for a challenging experiment of controlled re-entry of decommissioned low earth orbit satellite, Megha Tropiques – 1 (MT1) into the earth’s atmosphere. The experiment will be conducted on Mar 7, 2023.
Megha Tropiques – 1 (MT1) was launched on October 12, 2011, as a joint satellite venture of ISRO and French space agency CNES for tropical weather and climate studies.
The mission life of the satellite was originally three years, but it has continued to offer essential data services for more than ten years, supporting regional and global climate models till 2021, according to a statement released on Sunday by the space agency.
According to ISRO, Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee space debris mitigation guidelines recommend deorbiting a Low Earth Orbit object at its end of life preferably through controlled re-entry to a safe impact zone or by bringing it to an orbit where the orbital lifetime is less than 25 years.
The experiment has been undertaken as this satellite has sufficient leftover fuel, which will be used to test the relevant methodologies and understand the associated operational nuances of post mission disposal by direct re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The orbital lifetime of the satellite called Megha Tropiques – 1 (MT1) would have been more than 100 years in its 20 degree inclined operational orbit of 867 km altitude. The weight of this satellite is about 1,000 kilograms. About 125 kg on-board fuel remained unutilised at its end-of-mission that could pose risks for accidental break-up.
It was estimated that the leftover fuel of the satellite was enough to achieve a fully controlled atmospheric re-entry to impact an uninhabited location in the pacific ocean.
(With PTI inputs)