ICON Passes Critical Milestone

A Message from the Principal Investigator

Dr. Thomas Immel 0 1311

Two weeks ago, ICON passed a major review at NASA Headquarters, putting it on schedule to launch in ten months. It's a big milestone. ICON was approved to proceed with observatory integration at Orbital ATK in Virginia, meaning that the payload with all the attached instruments was mated to the spacecraft bus, a significant step in the journey to becoming a real science observatory.

Utah State's Space Lab Plays Large Role in Latest Satellite

ICON Will Improve Understanding of Upper Atmosphere - 'No Man's Land'

Karin Hauck 0 946
SURAE CHINN, LOGAN, UTAH (GOOD4UTAH) --When it comes to space exploration, the Space Dynamics Lab at Utah State University plays a big role. 
 
The newest addition to NASA's fleet of satellites is supposed to improve our understanding of weather tracking and GPS communication. 
 
Scientists know very little about the upper atmosphere, 60 miles above ground where atmosphere ends and space begins. But ICON or Ionospheric Connection Explorer hopes to change that.  The payload will be part of NASA's mission into space.  
 
It took engineers tens of thousand of man hours to build the real thing, with the final integration and testing done right here in Logan.
 
ICON that will hopefully unravel the mystery of this so called 'no mans land.'
 
Dr. Jed Hancock, Director of Civil Space Division of SDL 'this will tell scientist how weather on earth affects weather in space. This is important because a lot of the systems that we rely on every day life like GPS rely on atmosphere and the ionosphere."
 
The U.C. Berkeley-led team is in charge of the NASA funded mission along with engineers and scientists across the globe.
 

Excitement Building for September “GEOGOLDICON” Collaborative Meeting on Space Weather

Karin Hauck 0 1187

AN NSF-supported meeting at the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder CO at the end of September is drawing participants from around the globe. Over 80 participants -- and counting -- have registered for the GEOGOLDICON conference bringing together satellite and ground-based missions exploring Earth’s near-space environment, as well as others interested in observation and analysis opportunities. (The name comes from the combination of ICON and GOLD missions and NSF Geospace). Collaborations forged at the meeting will allow leverage of each other’s work and broad participation in the investigation of long-standing mysteries and challenges, such as what effect Earth’s weather has on space weather.  The meeting is free and the invitation extended to the solar, heliospheric, magnetospheric and atmospheric communities.

Read more about the GEOGOLDICON conference.

You can also read ICON’s submitted papers.

How to Build a Research Satellite

ICON Assembly and Testing

Karin Hauck 0 2164

It’s about a year until ICON launches, and all teamsscience, instruments, mission operations and modeling teamsare moving forward with laser focus. There is little time to rest when so much goes into making a NASA satellite ready for launch in June 2017.  Systems need to be tested to ensure they can download and process the data that ICON will be generating nearly continuously, orbit after orbit, in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Current data processing testing is making use of the data that the flight instruments are already producing as they undergo ground testing—it's a great way to see how everything's flowing through the data pipeline.  In fact, the mission and instrument operations teams worked together recently to perform a “day in the life” test with the instruments, where they ran them through a 24 hour long sequence of commands, to simulate what they will do over a full day's worth of orbits.

A Cake to Celebrate a Milestone

Karin Hauck 0 1259

The team working on ICON’s payload had a party over the weekend to commemorate their working together for the past year and their “empty nester” status now that the instrument has gone to Utah (Space Dynamics Lab) for testing and integration. UC Berkeley Electrical Engineer and party host Dorothy Gordon ordered the festive ICON cake from a local bakery. She said, “I had a great time working with the ICON-ICP (instrument control package) team and just wanted to get them all together again before we all drift off.” The send-off after their intensive work together takes place one year before ICON launches, so the cake could also be an “anti-birthday cake” celebrating ICON’s minus-one birthday!

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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