After acquiring millions of pictures of Earth, the SPOT 5 satellite was retired from service between 1 and 11 December. Following a series of 6 orbital manoeuvres to lower its perigee (the point on its orbit closest to Earth), the satellite’s fuel tanks were emptied and its batteries disconnected by CNES teams in Toulouse. It is now stationed safely in an elliptical orbit at an altitude between 625 and 809.
The Fluorescence Explorer (FLEX) mission will map vegetation fluorescence to quantify photosynthetic activity.
The conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy-rich carbohydrates through photosynthesis is one of the most fundamental processes on Earth - and one on which we all depend.
Information from FLEX will improve our understanding of the way carbon moves between plants and the atmosphere and how photosynthesis affects the carbon and water cycles.