NASA announced on Wednesday (18) the end of the Geotail mission. Launched in 1992 to study the magnetosphere, it suffered a failure in one of its data recorders in 2012, and in 2022, the other one presented an anomaly. After remote repair attempts, the mission ended its operations on November 28 last year.
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Geotail operated in an elongated orbit that took it to the invisible boundary of the magnetosphere, the magnetic bubble that protects Earth from energetic space particles. There, she collected data on the physical processes that took place, contributing to the understanding of how the flow of energy and solar particles reach Earth.
It yielded a series of scientific discoveries and helped scientists to understand the speed of passage of material from the Sun through the magnetosphere, the processes taking place there and, finally, also brought the identification of oxygen, silicon, sodium and aluminum in the lunar atmosphere.
Furthermore, the Geotail mission helped to identify the location of the magnetic reconnection, an important process for the movement of particles and energy from the Sun to the magnetosphere, also confirming the mechanisms of auroral formation. Over the years, the probe’s data has assisted NASA in other space missions with different objectives.
“Geotail was a very productive satellite, and it was the first joint mission between NASA and JAXA,” recalled Don Fairfield, principal project scientist at Geotail until his retirement. Despite not collecting more new data, the information obtained by Geotail will still yield a series of studies over the next few years.