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Mission Operations News

Karin Hauck
/ Categories: Instruments, EUV, FUV, IVM, MIGHTI, Launch

ICON post-launch status

Two weeks out, the observatory is performing well

As of today, ICON has been in space for two weeks since its launch from Cape Canaveral on October 10, 2019, and we’re pleased to report that the observatory is performing well.  



UCB MOC with engineers remotely monitoring the pre-launch spacecraft
Here in the UCB Mission Operations Center, ICON’s commissioning has started, and all spacecraft functions—such as power generation, thermal and pointing control and maneuvering—have been successfully tested. We’re learning some things you can only learn on orbit, but the Northrop Grumman spacecraft seems to be in great shape and ready for science. The commissioning of ICON’s four instruments has started and will continue through November. All instruments have been turned on electrically and checked out. Two of the four instruments, IVM and MIGHTI, even received their first data. The MIGHTI instrument looks to be operating perfectly, producing interferograms that are exactly as we hoped. The other two instruments, EUV and FUV, will open their doors around Halloween, and then the high voltage will be ramped up. We’re working all day, but the observatory is monitored around the clock by flight controllers and engineers.

Berkeley Ground Station

Berkeley Ground Station

An early picture of the Berkeley Ground Station at SSL in the Berkeley hills
An anniversary can also be celebrated—our 11-meter satellite dish is located on the grounds of Space Sciences Lab and used for two-way communication with ICON and other satellites within range. It is known as the Berkeley Ground Station (BGS). The mission operations manager shared that October 18 was the "BGS First Light 20-Year Anniversary," and added, "Our first pass was a shadow track of the FAST satellite at Poker Flat, Alaska.” Happy 20th to BGS, a hardworking dish, indeed, that has taken over 83,000 satellite passes in its lifetime (and quite economically). How many terabytes of science data has it pulled down over these 20 years? One of these days we’ll add them all up!

Congratulations to the whole team who pulled together over time despite challenges.


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