2016 will be an exciting year for the ICON mission

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2016 will be an exciting year for the ICON mission. This year will see the assembly and test of the complete scientific payload (the collection of instruments and telescopes ICON will carry), the completion of the spacecraft (the main body of the satellite), and when these come together, the assembly and test of the full ICON observatory.

Over the next two months, all of the ICON instruments, the Instrument Control Package (ICP), and other key components will be delivered to the Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) in Utah for integration into the payload. Once integrated into a single payload package, it will undergo specialized vibration and vacuum tests to simulate the conditions of launch and operations on orbit.

Once the payload performance has been confirmed, the payload package will be delivered to Orbital ATK in Virginia, who are building the main body of the spacecraft, called the “bus”. Delivery is planned for mid-year, which will give Orbital ATK ample opportunity to test the entire observatory and prepare it for integration with the Pegasus launch vehicle in Spring of 2017.

Meanwhile, the science team will be busy completing the software needed to download and manipulate the data taken by ICON’s instruments to prepare the data pipeline for receipt of real (rather than simulated) data soon after launch in June of 2017.

Follow the mission’s progress at http://icon.ssl.berkeley.edu/News/Blog or on twitter @NASASunEarth

EUV Alignment and Calibration has begun

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ICON's Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) instrument is an “imaging spectrometer”. Its 2 dimensional detector records spectral information over the range 58.4 to 83.4 nm in the one direction, and records 12 degree wide x 1/4 degree high slices of the sky over a 16 degree field of view in the other direction.

In preparation for alignment of the toroidal grating used in the EUV instrument, an optical system has been setup to simulate the cylindrical wavefront. This simulates the instrument’s view for each slice of sky while in orbit. The optical set up consists of a convex sphere and a concave toroid that produces a line image on the EUV entrance slit to simulate what EUV will observe in space. This optics pair will be used to first align the EUV instrument using visible light, then the final alignment will take place in a vacuum chamber using EUV radiation, since EUV light is not transmitted in air.

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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