Friday, May 14, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
And at last, the secret of our solar system's star has been revealed:
Concealed beneath its brightly shimmering, ever-shifting shells
Of ancient hydrogen a mighty dragon lies; planet-sized
Eyes flashing with photon fire, riding the great plasma tides
Boiling up from Sol's deep core, it roars in raw delight,
Feeding on the brutal fusion light throbbing beneath its feet...
Hiding in the Sun's dark heart it bathes in nuclear fire,
Revelling in its fury, rolling in it, each beat of its wings
Sending great waves of energy slamming up into the
Chromosphere to ripple and roil across Sol's surface
In tsunamis of atomic fire, to the amazement of those watching,
Wide-eyed, on Faraday's far-away Earth...
But these images reveal the dragon is not alone;
The Sun's firestorm fields clearly have shielded
Our prying eyes from flocks of phoenixes flying
In the dragon's wake. Each time a starfirebird bursts
Through the seething surface of our star we see
A glorious prominence leaping into space;
Every feathered, towering arch traces out the path
Of a phoenix's graceful rise and fall.
Each time one manages to break free
Of the Sun's greedy gravity we see a
Fiery red banner billow out, tatter and tear,
Flapping away like it had never been there...
© Stuart Atkinson 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
10:02: yo-yo despin
10:05: ejection of yo-yo despin cables
10:10: Black Brandt 2nd stage falling away toward Earth
10:12: Shutter door with crush bumper opening
10:16: Switch to nose-viewing camera
10:20: Nose cone ejection and seeing the nose cone fall away
10:40: Solar acquisition
Monday, May 3, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
I realize I’m growing weary of Haiku.
But still I’d like to express myself in some old fashioned way
And at the same time, try something new.
So tonight, I write in the form of a sonnet
Like the Bard would have, centuries ago.
But when it comes to news, though you might want it
I have very little to report that you don’t already know.
The Observatory continues her graceful figure eight,
SDOGS2 remains watchful and ready for command,
But there are no activities planned for this date,
And thus, the uplink is short on demand.
Thus concludes a nominal shift report:
I have expressed myself, and await your retort.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Eadweard Muybridge is the father of stop action photography. He developed techniques to look at tumbling humans and moving animals. One of his most famous works was to see whether a galloping horse had all four hooves off the ground at the same time. Muybridge set up a series of cameras on the grounds of Stanford University and took 16 photographs that proved the horse gathered all four hooves under its belly at one instant in the gallop stride.
SDO uses similar techniques to make movies of coronal loops, magnetic fields, and prominence eruptions. We also need to ensure we sample the time intervals quickly enough and our pixels are small enough to see what is actually happening on the Sun. Muybridge answered similar questions as he studied animal locomotion.
Muybridge’s photographs are on display through July 18, 2010 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Around 20:00 UT Monday the AIA CCD heaters were turned off allowing the CCD to temperatures drop rapidly from about +40C to -70C and then slowly settle towards their final temperatures. With that drop in temperature, we saw the camera background decrease markedly, and the image quality in all channels improve dramatically.
The engineering images are beautiful, even though taken in an approximate focus position. Tomorrow, we plan to make a series of focus scans to determine an initial optimal focus, and work will start on calibrating the detector amplifier gains, instrument stabilization system response, etc., which will continue to improve image quality.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
The AIA CCDs are still warm. On Monday the decontamination heaters will be turned off, and the sequencer will be started so the CCD cool-down can be observed.
All nine SDO instrument doors are now open.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
At 11:00 am EST this morning HMI began opening their door. This door protected the front window and optics from damage but can now be opened to let the Sun shine in. Sunlight was used to illuminate the front window and study the optical performance of the telescope. A sunspot could be seen in these engineering images.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The instrument teams of SDO began their work to start taking data. HMI allowed its CCDs to cool over the weekend and EVE started the cooldown cycle on Tuesday. AIA plans to watch the Sun while their CCDs cool to operational temperatures later this week. The Ka-band transmitter was turned on and high-rate (150 Mbps) data is flowing to the SOCs.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
The EVE instrument completed its component check outs.
HMI prepared to turn off the decontamination heaters on Saturday to allow the CCDs to get cold.
AIA worked with their guide telescopes and image stabilization system. AIA'S GTs tell us where we are pointing with great precision and they are important to test.
SDO continues to operate well. Another longer eclipse will happen tonight and an antenna handover will be done.
Friday, March 19, 2010
doing very well !!!
We turned on ESP, MEGS-A CCD, and MEGS-B CCD for this first time this
morning. Their dark data look fine. Every component looks healthy.
Congratulations and thanks to the EVE team and GSFC SDO project team !!!!"
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Now that we are close to our final orbit the main engine plumbing will be vented to exhaust fuel and oxidizer from the lines. The first Trim Motor Firing (TMF #1) is planned for Thursday evening.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
A successful Apogee Motor Firing #7 continued the string of smooth Main Engine burns since we removed the structural filter and lengthened the settling burn. AMF-7 raised our perigee altitude to approximately 25000 km, giving SDO an orbital period of about 19.2 hours. This sets SDO for one last trip "around the world" before Monday's AMF-8 actually moves SDO into a nearly geosynchronous orbit. After AMF-8, there will be three additional Trim Motor Firings (TMFs) to fix our operational orbit over White Sands.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Apogee Motor Firing #4, a 50-minute burn using the ACS thrusters, was performed successfully on Friday. Our perigee altitude is now greater than 10,000 km as it continues to move away from the Earth toward a circular GEO orbit. The Slosh Tiger Team is recommending some tweaking to the ACS controller to allow main engine burns to resume. We are meeting today to discuss a "hybrid" burn for Sunday, 40 minutes on the ACS thrusters, followed by a 10-minute main engine burn.
Now that perigee is moving above the inner radiation belt it looks like EVE will no longer to able to measure trapped energetic protons and will have to wait for a solar signal. I hope these proton measurements can be used to improve our models of the inner radiation belt, especially AP8MIN, for the conditions present during this extended solar minimum period. That's what Living With a Star is all about!
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
While the EVE team continues to be busy with instrument commissioning, there is another task at hand that is critical to the success of the EVE instrument. This is preparing the first of five calibration sounding rockets that is set to launch May 5 from White Sands Missile range outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico. This sounding rocket caries an almost exact replica EVE instrument as the satellite version SDO EVE instrument. This sounding rocket, and the four that will follow over the prime SDO mission, will help determine any long-term degradation of the EVE optical system that may occur to help EVE obtain the most accurate measurements possible of the solar irradiance.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
HMI powered on the Image Stabilization System and both cameras. The operational heaters set points were increased from 10C to 15C and are controlling the instrument temperature nicely. The instrument is responding nominally.
AIA went from a minimal power state to being fully powered. This primarily meant powering up the Camera Electronic Boxes and the ISSs. With the ISSs powered up one is now able to see Guide Telescope signals, which indicate that the GTs are quite healthy and relatively aligned with one another. The thermal control system is appropriately controlling the AIA thermal environment. Over the next few days the temperatures will be increased to aid in outgassing.
EVE completed their scheduled commissioning procedures without errors. These procedures verified EVE autonomy rule functionality, EVE diagnostic channel packet receipt, all 4 filter wheels are functioning nominally and EVE instrument notification commands.
The data collected on this burn will be used to refine our understanding of the fuel slosh dynamics with the goal of returning to main engine burns as soon as we can. But until such an understanding is reached, we will continue with orbit circularization maneuvers using the ACS thrusters.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The second Apogee Motor Firing (AMF #2) this evening was autonomously aborted after 30 seconds due to high system momentum. The Observatory is safe, the on-board system detected an unexpectedly high momentum, aborted the burn, and returned the Observatory to sun-pointing. Preliminary investigations do not show any indication of a hardware problem, more likely is that the combination of the settling burn (with the ACS thrusters prior to the main engine firing) immediately followed by the initial main engine burn exceeded the limits that were set (i.e. limits were set too low given this particular timing and fuel tank fill conditions). The plan is to continue reviewing the data to confirm the theory. If all holds, the next AMF burn would be scheduled for Sunday evening.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Shortly after separation, the team confirmed the spacecraft's solar arrays deployed correctly and are generating power. All the crucial post-separation events "happened like clockwork," said NASA Launch Director Omar Baez.
This concludes live coverage of the countdown and liftoff of the Atlas V rocket carrying the Solar Dynamics Observatory. For further mission information, please visit http://www.nasa.gov/sdo . Thanks for joining us!
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is on its own in Earth orbit after a perfect liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:23 a.m. The spacecraft separated from the Centaur upper stage right on time.
Now one hour and 46 minutes into the flight of the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Centaur's main engine has completed its second and final burn. The vehicle is moving to spacecraft separation attitude. The spacecraft will separate from the Centaur momentarily.
The Centaur's RL10 main engine reignited on time at 12:05 p.m. for a three-minute burn. The Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft will separate from the Centaur about three minutes after the second main engine cutoff.
At the time of the Centaur main engine's second burn, known as MES2, the vehicle and spacecraft will be high above the Pacific Ocean northeast of Australia. The burn is expected one hour and 42 minutes into the flight. Data picked up by the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System indicates a healthy SDO spacecraft and a healthy Centaur.
After a spectacular on-time liftoff at 10:23 a.m. and a flawless ride into space, the Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft remains attached to the Centaur upper stage in a parking orbit. The Centaur's main engine will burn once more to position the spacecraft for separation. That second burn is expected at approximately 12:05 p.m.
The Centaur's main engine cut off on time, ending its first burn. Centaur and spacecraft are in a parking orbit, entering a coast phase scheduled to last about an hour and 27 minutes.
The Atlas V booster has completed its burn and separated from the Centaur upper stage. The Centaur main engine is burning now at 22,300 pounds of thrust; it will propel the SDO spacecraft through the rest of its flight into space. At the top of the rocket, the payload fairing has opened and fallen free, exposing the spacecraft to the space environment. The flight is going very smoothly.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is on its way into space, seeking a vantage point in orbit where it will examine our sun in more detail than ever before. The Atlas V carrying the SDO spacecraft is thundering into the Florida sky on 863,000 pounds of thrust. The booster's RD-180 engine will burn for about four minutes before the booster burns out and separates from the Centaur upper stage.
Countdown clocks are holding at T-4 minutes for 10 minutes. This hold may be extended if the launch team chooses to target a launch time later in the launch window.
All Atlas V and Centaur propellants are at flight level.
Launch Weather Officer Clay Flinn just briefed the launch team on the latest weather conditions. Clouds passing over the pad right now are not thick enough to violate the launch commit criteria, and Flinn predicts we'll be "green" for that thick cloud rule for at least another 45 minutes, well into today's launch window. Winds are 15 knots, gusting to 18, although isolated gusts above 20 knots are possible.
We're about half an hour away from the opening of today's launch window at 10:23 a.m. The countdown continues to go very smoothly, with winds and clouds the only topics of concern. Winds are hovering near the 20-knot limit, occasionally gusting above it, but generally staying below it. An area of clouds moving east across Central Florida is believed to be thin enough not to impact launch, but a weather aircraft is monitoring it and relaying data back to forecasters with the 45th Weather Squadron.
Range Safety has completed their final set of communication checks between range antennas and the Atlas V vehicle. That's the communication loop the rocket's flight termination system would use to destroy the rocket if it veered dangerously off course.
Winds have increased a bit, occasionally bumping up above the 20-knot limit, which is exactly what forecasters predicted might happen. We're still expected to find a time during the launch window when winds stay within limits.
About half of the Centaur's liquid hydrogen has been loaded aboard. There are about 40 minutes left in the Atlas V/Centaur tanking process.
The countdown clock is at T-47 minutes and counting. Our next hold -- and the final planned hold for today -- will begin at T-4 minutes at 10:09 a.m.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly will allow scientists to see the entire disc of the sun in very high resolution -- 4,096 by 4,096 millimeter charge-coupled device, or CCD. The light-sensitive CCD stores image data and converts it to color. In comparison, a standard digital camera uses a 7.176 by 5.329 millimeter CCD sensor.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory test team reports there are no problems with the spacecraft, and with the exception of the switch to internal power, SDO is ready to fly. The spacecraft will change to internal power after launch managers commit to a launch time. Right now, the team continues to aim for the opening of today's launch window at 10:23 a.m.
Winds are staying below the 20-knot limit, and launch managers are cautiously optimistic the weather and wind will stay "green" for liftoff at 10:23 a.m. The area of clouds approaching from the west is expected to reach the launch area around launch time, but forecasters believe the clouds are too thin to pose a problem. A weather aircraft is going to fly into the clouds soon, providing more conclusive information.
The liquid oxygen level on the Atlas V booster just passed 30 percent.
The Centaur upper stage's liquid oxygen level has reached 95 percent. At this point, the "topping" process will pump small amounts of the propellant into the tank to replace any that evaporates during the rest of the countdown.
Atlas V chilldown is complete and the team is beginning to load liquid oxygen into the booster. The Eastern Range is "green," or "go," on all counts and there are no problems in work. It's a very quiet countdown at this point.
Although winds are marginal and occasionally gusting above the limit, the overall trend is much better than yesterday's. An area of clouds has appeared off to the west, and a weather aircraft will fly out and take a closer look at the clouds' thickness and temperature.
Launch managers will decide about five minutes before launch -- the last minute of the T-4 minute hold -- whether to commit to launch at 10:23 a.m. If they decide to wait until further in the window, due to wind or another issue, they will stay in the T-4 minute hold and the spacecraft will remain on external power until the decision is made to come out of the hold.
The launch team is ready to begin filling the rocket's propellant tanks with cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The booster's RP-1 tank is already loaded. Tanking will begin with "chilldown," which cools and conditions the ground equipment and transfer lines that will come in contact with these extremely cold propellants.
The 10-foot-wide, 41.5-foot-tall Centaur upper stage will be filled with 4,150 gallons of liquid oxygen and 12,680 gallons of liquid hydrogen; the Atlas V booster's propellant tanks hold 48,860 gallons of liquid oxygen and 25,540 gallons of RP-1.
The countdown will pick up once again at 8:13 a.m. as we come out of the T-2 hour hold.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory will rely on three advanced science instruments to meet the mission's goals. The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, an array of four telescopes, will observe the solar surface and atmosphere. The Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment will measure changes in the amount of ultraviolet light the sun emits. Finally, the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager will create maps of the sun's magnetic fields and look past the sun's surface.
Built by United Launch Alliance, the 191-foot-tall Atlas V-401 rocket that will boost SDO into space is composed of the orange booster stage topped by the Centaur upper stage. The spacecraft is mounted inside the protective payload fairing above the upper stage.
The next major countdown milestone is the start of the "tanking" process, when storage tanks in the rocket's booster stage and upper stage are filled with propellants. The booster's RD-180 main engine runs on a combination of liquid oxygen and Rocket Propellant-1 fuel, a refined kerosene usually referred to as RP-1. The Centaur's RL10 engine is powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.
Our nearest star is the dominating force behind Earth's climate -- and space weather throughout the solar system. Powerful solar flares, fierce coronal mass ejections and other intense solar events can disrupt communications and power systems on Earth, and threaten astronauts living and working outside the relative protection of our atmosphere.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory is embarking on a five-year mission to investigate -- in unprecedented detail -- the energy processes driving the sun's stormy activity. The 6,555-pound spacecraft will return 1.5 terabytes of data every day -- equal to half a million downloaded songs -- and provide detailed images of near-IMAX-quality high resolution. The mission is the first of NASA's Living With a Star Program.
Launch Weather Officer Clay Flinn just briefed NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez and the rest of the launch team about today's weather forecast. There's no threat of clouds or precipitation interfering with today's liftoff, and although winds are gusting to the 20-knot limit, "by the front of the window, we should be in decent shape," Flinn said. It's a chilly morning at Florida's spaceport, with temperatures expected to rise into the lower 40s during the countdown.
In the event of another scrub today, weather on Friday will be considerably worse, with rain in the forecast. Weather on Saturday would be better, although winds would remain a problem.
At T-130 minutes and counting, the launch pad is being cleared to prepare for loading of extremely cold, or cryogenic, propellants. The Eastern Range has completed its check of the hold-fire system that would allow range personnel to stop launch for safety reasons.
A few miles south of the launch pad, launch managers and controllers are monitoring the countdown from their consoles inside the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center. The blog console is located inside the nearby Launch Vehicle Data Center, where we're listening to the launch team's communication channels along with launch support personnel.
Welcome once again to the launch countdown for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The launch team hasn't encountered any problems that would prevent liftoff at 10:23 a.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Today's main concern will be the weather. Winds are likely to be close to the 20-knot limit, but lower than yesterday's launch attempt, when winds exceeded limits throughout the countdown and ultimately scrubbed the liftoff. The forecast for today is better, with 45th Weather Squadron forecasters predicting a 60 percent chance of weather favorable for launch. Launch Weather Officer Clay Flinn will provide a detailed weather briefing in just a few minutes, so we'll share that information with you.