The satellite PROBA2, launched on 2 November 2009, celebrated its fifth anniversary in space
PROBA2 is an ESA satellite built in and operated from Belgium. Its main purpose is to study the Sun and space weather. To this end, it successfully uses of a number of new and experimental technologies. David Berghmans, of the Royal Observatory of Belgium, is one of the researchers at the origin of the PROBA2 project. He explains: “The ‘A’ in PROBA2 stands for ‘autonomy’, that is the satellite is only operated during business hours, and flies on ‘automatic pilot’ for the rest of the time. The onboard instruments are directly controlled by the scientists through their laptop.”
During the past 5 years, PROBA2 has orbited the Earth more than 25000 times, covering more than a billion km. The satellite has taken more than 1 million individual images of the Sun, and recorded over 6000 solar flares, including the very strong flares of last week. After 5 years of operation, PROBA2 continues to make high quality images and data that are often used by scientists in their research and articles.
More information and animations can be found on the website of the PROBA2 Science Centre: http://proba2.oma.be/birthday