Routine CASSIOPE (Swarm-Echo) Science Operations Come to an End

Cassiope in Space
Artist’s rendition of CASSIOPE in space. Image courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency.

On December 17, 2021, CASSIOPE experienced a reaction wheel failure, forcing the spacecraft into its safe-hold, sun-pointing attitude mode. Used to adjust and control the spacecraft pointing, reaction wheels are a vital part of a spacecraft bus. Now that CASSIOPE has lost three of its four wheels, this latest failure signals the end of CASSIOPE’s ability to control its attitude beyond a slow spin that points its main solar panel at the sun. As such, high-quality science data collection from the e-POP payload is greatly reduced, and the routine science operations phase of the mission has come to an end. Contact is still being made with the spacecraft, albeit at a highly reduced rate.

The operations team at the University of Calgary would like to thank and acknowledge the many talented people involved in the mission over the years (from conceptualization in the mid-1990’s to design, build, and testing in the 2000’s, launch in 2013, and operations to the end of 2021) that have made the wonderfully diverse, rich, and large data set from e-POP possible. We would also like to thank the organizations that have contributed to the mission’s great success including the Canadian Space Agency, MDA, the Government of Canada, and most recently the European Space Agency. The acquired e-POP data set is full of fantastic potential to enlarge our understanding in a plethora of areas of space research and will certainly inspire numerous discoveries in the years ahead.

We will continue to update and improve the e-POP data set moving forward, so be sure to watch for updates!