ICON post-launch status

Two weeks out, the observatory is performing well

Karin Hauck 0 1063

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.  

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.

What does the MIGHTI instrument do?

What is an interferometer? What will MIGHTI be investigating in Earth's upper atmosphere?

Karin Hauck 0 2106

ICON carries four different instruments to explore Earth's upper atmosphere. The MIGHTI instrument, an example of an interferometer, looks at winds and temperatures in the ionosphere. In this video,  Drs. John Harlander and Chris Englert explain what an interferometer is and what MIGHTI will be investigating.

"The atmosphere naturally just glows at those altitudes, more during the day and less during the night...and by just looking at the color of this airglow, we can find out about the wind and the temperature. So the atmosphere... is helping us to understand how it is behaving by sending out this airglow. If we build the right instruments to look at particular aspects of the color of the airglow, we can get information that we want."
—  Dr. Chris Englert, MIGHTI instrument lead

ICON on cover of Applied Optics magazine

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The magazine Applied Optics featured an article about ICON's MIGHTI instrument in its March 10, 2017 issue, and chose a photograph from the article for its cover page. This is ICON's first print magazine cover. In a mostly-digital publishing age, it's an honor to be chosen for a prominent place in this highly regarded industry publication from The Optical Society.




2016 will be an exciting year for the ICON mission

Claire Raftery 0 4249

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

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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