On 24 March, the European Space Agency (ESA) put its long range space missions: the Cluster quartet, ExoMars TGO, Mars Express and Solar Orbiter, into Safe Mode “Hibernation” on 24 March to limit the number of personnel it would need at its operations centre. This was after an employee at the mission control base in Darmstadt in Germany tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

However, on 2 April, ESA announced that it had brought these missions back to life and that they were again taking scientific measurements again after quarantined ground controllers showed no signs of the virus and were allowed back to work.

ESOC’s mission control room. Courtesy: ESA/J.Mai