ICON Ready to Ship

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The ICON mission is proceeding apace. High fives are in order since the team just completed its fourth operational readiness test (ORT). During an ORT, a dozen SSL Mission Operation Team Members join forces with two dozen spacecraft engineers from Orbital ATK to rehearse the first week of activities that will occur during ICON’s launch and early orbit. It’s an entire week of long days and intensive testing in ICON’s Mission Operations Center at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Lab, to simulate operation of the observatory. Spurred along by the fact that this was the final ORT before launch, the team worked together to bring it to a healthy and successful completion (simulating operations with a failed momentum wheel, no less). The next time these teams come together at SSL will be the actual launch day for ICON.

What does the MIGHTI instrument do?

What is an interferometer? What will MIGHTI be investigating in Earth's upper atmosphere?

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ICON carries four different instruments to explore Earth's upper atmosphere. The MIGHTI instrument, an example of an interferometer, looks at winds and temperatures in the ionosphere. In this video,  Drs. John Harlander and Chris Englert explain what an interferometer is and what MIGHTI will be investigating.

"The atmosphere naturally just glows at those altitudes, more during the day and less during the night...and by just looking at the color of this airglow, we can find out about the wind and the temperature. So the atmosphere... is helping us to understand how it is behaving by sending out this airglow. If we build the right instruments to look at particular aspects of the color of the airglow, we can get information that we want."
—  Dr. Chris Englert, MIGHTI instrument lead

What does the Mission Operations Center do?

The MOC team prepare for the upcoming launch

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Dr. Manfred Bester, Manager of Mission Operations Center at the Space Sciences Lab of UC Berkeley, explains what he and his team do to prepare for the upcoming ICON launch.

"The most intense part is the immediate time before launch."

ICON at Cal Day, UC Berkeley's Open House

Life-size payload model popular with public

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On April 22, 2017, members of the ICON team showed off a life-size 3D-printed ICON payload mock-up—built by Space Dynamics Lab—at Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) for Cal Day, UC Berkeley’s all-day Open House. PI Thomas Immel was on hand to answer questions. Nearly 1500 visitors, primarily families, made the extra trip up the hill from campus (where most activities were happening) to LHS and through the main hall, where the life-size model and other ICON outreach activities were featured.

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ICON skin is based on Greytness by Adammer
Background image, courtesy of NASA, is a derivitave of photograph taken by D. Pettit from the ISS, used under Creative Commons license