As per the latest update, the European Space Agency (ESA) has reportedly decided to restore the operations for the four space missions that it has placed on hiatus late last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Space Science Missions Restoration
Last March 24, the ESA announced that because of the current coronavirus pandemic, it decided to suspend the operations of four of its space science missions: the Cluster, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, Solar Orbiter, and the Mars Express missions. According to the space agency, the decision to put these space missions into safe modes for indefinite durations was prompted by staffing restrictions that it’s going through, given that one of its employees at the European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany had tested positive for the coronavirus. As such, the missions were placed on hold in order for the space agency to devote time and attention to its staff and employees.
However, just a mere two weeks after the decision, ESA announced on April 2 that it has decided to resume all operations of the four space missions, as well as go into new detail as to why the suspensions were made in the first place.
Per ESA, an employee reportedly came into contact with 20 people just a couple days before his diagnosis. And since these 20 people worked on the formerly-suspended space missions, they were asked to stay home as a preventive measure. Thankfully, none of them showed symptoms of the disease, as well as the person who came into contact with them.
“We decided to preventatively suspend operations on these missions until the risk of a potential cascade of follow-on infections and quarantines disappeared. None of the employees placed in self-quarantine showed symptoms of the disease, and the person who was diagnosed with COVID-19 is thankfully fine, and recovering well,” Paolo Ferri, head of mission operations at ESOC, said in a statement.
As such, operations for the four space science missions are to resume immediately, especially since of them, specifically the Solar Orbiter, is a joint mission with NASA. However, resuming of the operations will be done remotely for now.