Europe turns off instruments on some of its deep-space probes during coronavirus pandemic

An artistic rendering of ESA’s Solar Orbiter. | Image: ESA

The European Space Agency is putting four of its space missions into “safe configurations” amid the novel coronavirus pandemic as the agency plans to reduce the number of people who can come into ESA’s primary mission control center in Germany. The instruments on these spacecraft will be turned off, and the vehicles will go “largely unattended” as they travel throughout the Solar System, according to ESA.
“Our priority is the health of our workforce, and we will therefore reduce activity on some of our scientific missions, especially on interplanetary spacecraft, which currently require the highest number of personnel on site,” Rolf Densing, ESA’s director of operations, said in a statement.
“Our priority is the health of our workforce.”

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