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

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

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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.
 

How to Build a Research Satellite

ICON Assembly and Testing

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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.

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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