A pioneering mission comes to an end
I also appreciate that you included the paragraph about the processor.
For people wanting to learn more about the issues with space processors, Ars Technica did an article about it in 2019, including ESA's new GR740 that was still in testing then.
If you happened to come across info about it in your rabbit hole and it has been used in a mission since, I would not mind an article about that either :-) (hint hint)
As usual , thanks for another awesome dept reporting article.
And for highlighting ESA's awesome Earth observation missions, and letting us be proud of ESA for its Earth Observation systems, one of the few areas where it is world-leading in both technical achievement and applying/sharing data.
Unfortunately it also exposes ESA as being unwieldy show and expensive. (Or at least appears that way) Why is the replacement taking that long, cost that much, and will it still have value once it flies?
From the start of a satellite program, it is known that it will not last forever.
So when it became clear in 2019 that it was not only working, but immensely valuable, shouldn't that have been the moment that a follow-on version would be started? And have a copy ready to take over once this one failed? Why did it take ESA three more years, till late 2022, to get approval?
Moreover, why will the next one take almost 10 years to build, and over 3 times the money to build it?
Sure some inflation happened, but the custom chips are designed, the custom laser is proven (and the new industry standard according to your article), the plans are ready, and both launch and satellite production have become at least simpler if not cheaper. So the price should have come down.
Regardless, even at its original price of €500 million it should be a good deal against its claimed direct value of €0.8 billion in primary benefits (Even if you are using the American definition of 1000 million, better still for the European definition of a million million).
And why does ESA not have more of these things already in production to study the Venus and Mars weather systems?
Sure there may be value in ESA for developing a 'better mousetrap/weather sensor' for the next gen system. But how will we get the weather predictions now, if the system was so valuable?
And what is preventing other agencies or weather companies from buying these Lasers for their own systems to fill their needs, and thus no longer need the ESA system next decade?