The initial orbit provided at separation on 14 May by the Ariane 5 has given near-perfect initial trajectories for both Herschel and Planck, now travelling on separate but similar paths toward their final orbits around L2, according to the mission control teams at ESOC, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre.
Mission controllers have now finalised their calculations on the magnitude of initial trajectory correction manoeuvre (TCM) required for each satellite. Both satellites are to conduct TCMs on 15 May, the first full day after launch.
The highly accurate initial orbit provides much more flexibility for conducting the correction manoeuvres, as well as a larger fuel margin for the rest of the mission.
The Herschel Flight Control Team executed their manoeuvre starting today at 17:16:26 CEST, with the thrusters operating for 22 minutes and 28 seconds and providing an overall increase in speed of 8.7 m/s.
The Planck Flight Control Team are scheduled to conduct their TCM starting 21:30 CEST, lasting approximately 2 hours and providing a planned increase in speed of 14.3 m/s.
Both satellites are operating in nominal condition on their way towards their final orbit around L2.