iris-opens-door_0
In its first major milestone since launch, the IRIS team opened the telescope door on July 17, 2013. The telescope door is the circular white object on the far left of this graphic. Image Credit: NASA Goddard.

On July 17th at 11:14 pm PDT (2:14 pm EDT) the IRIS instrument team successfully opened the door on NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, which launched June 27, 2013, aboard a Pegasus XL rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

A 60-day check out period began at launch. The first 30 days, which ends July 27, consists of tests and spacecraft system checks. The team will use the remaining 30 days for initial observing runs to fine tune instrument observations. If all is nominal, the team plans to begin normal science mode by August 26.

All data will be available to scientists and the public as soon as the mission begins science operations. The team is looking forward to receiving high-resolution images and spectra soon after first light.

“NASA’s Ames Research Center is proud to support this exciting mission that is a great example of how low-cost projects can generate high-value science,” said Dr. S. Pete Worden, Ames Center Director and IRIS co-investigator. “IRIS also is a great opportunity to engage the agency’s Pleiades supercomputer housed at Ames to help predict, mitigate and understand the effects of space weather.”

NASA’s Explorer Program at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., provides overall management of the IRIS mission. The principal investigator institution is Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center. Ames will perform ground commanding and flight operations and receive science data and spacecraft telemetry.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory designed the IRIS telescope. The Norwegian Space Centre and NASA’s Near Earth Network provide the ground stations using antennas at Svalbard, Norway; Fairbanks, Alaska; McMurdo, Antarctica; and Wallops Island, Va. NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for the launch service procurement, including managing the launch and countdown. Orbital Sciences Corporation provided the L-1011 aircraft and Pegasus XL launch system.

For more information about the IRIS mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/iris

For information about NASA Ames’ involvement in the mission, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/18eIcHj

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff
Source: Susan Hendrix/NASA GSFC

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