ICON arrives at Vandenberg

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On May 1, our Ionospheric Connection Explorer arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the next stage of its journey to launch, which is scheduled for June 14 US time from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (Kwajalein is in a different time zone so it will be June 15 there.)

The observatory made an overnight trip from Gilbert, Arizona, where it was in an Orbital ATK facility. At Vandenberg, ICON will be integrated onto a Pegasus XL rocket and flown to Kwajalein on an L-1011 aircraft, which will double as the rocket's launcher.

Rub-A-Dub-Dub, ICON EUV gets a scrub

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In preparation for launch, the ICON EUV instrument recently went through a week long "scrub" activity at the Orbital ATK facility in Gilbert, Arizona. The detector in EUV is a microchannel plate (MCP), and the millions of tiny tubes in the MCP can develop different characteristics during all the testing done on the ground, and overall become less effective. The scrub involves running the detector at high voltage while it is illuminated by a bright EUV light source, which cleans off any molecules that weren’t there at the start of all that testing. When done for a sufficient amount of time (a week, in this case), the detector develops a more uniform and stable amplification, just like when it was new. It’s like a drink from the fountain of youth for the MCP.

Recent media articles featuring ICON and GOLD

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ICON and GOLD missions will study Earth's little-understood upper atmosphere. Here are some recent science and technology articles that have featured both missions, as the GOLD launch approaches in late January and ICON later this year:


ICON at AGU Fall Meeting

New Orleans, 11-15 Dec. 2017

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AGU’s Fall Meeting is the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world and this year takes place in New Orleans, Dec. 11-15. Click on Read More to see a compilation of ICON or GOLD-related sessions, posters and the SPA Town Hall (Monday night).

Congratulations to Joe Huba, ICON Co-Investigator, who will be presenting the 2017 Nicolet Lecture on Tuesday.


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.

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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