After seven years of operations, and upon finally running out of propellant, the second of the twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft will be retired on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Spacecraft A of the Van Allen Probes mission will be shut down by operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. The command follows one three months previously that terminated operations for spacecraft B, the second spacecraft of the mission.
“This mission spent seven years in the radiation belts, and broke all the records for a spacecraft to tolerate and operate in that hazardous region, all with no interruptions,” said Nelofar Mosavi, Van Allen Probes project manager at Johns Hopkins APL. “This mission was about resiliency against the harshest space environment.”
Originally slated for a two-year mission, the spacecraft flew through the Van Allen belts—rings of charged particles trapped by Earth’s magnetic field — to understand how particles were gained and lost by the belts. The spacecraft made major discoveries that revolutionized how we understand our near-Earth environment.