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Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) To Maintain Critical US Space Weather Alert Capabilities


NOAA/NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) undergoes final processing in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center clean room in November 2014. Solar wind instruments at right. DSCOVR will launch in January 2015 atop SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: Ken Kremer 
NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, MARYLAND – The Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, launching in January 2015, will provide critically unique observations aimed at maintaining at risk US capabilities for broadcasting real-time solar wind alerts valuable in protecting a wide range of crucial US infrastructure from disruption by approaching solar storms.
AmericaSpace recently visited DSCOVR up close with the probes NOAA/NASA science team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where it is undergoing final assembly and testing in a clean room facility before shipment to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“The purpose of DSCOVR is to provide space weather warning service capability continuity,” said Errol Summerlin, DSCOVR Scientist in NASA’s Heliophysics Division, in an interview with AmericaSpace at the NASA Goddard spacecraft clean room.
“The two spacecraft currently providing space weather data are NASA’s ACE and WIND satellites, which are 20 to 25 years old.”
ACE is nearly 20 years old and far beyond its original design lifetime.
“The instruments on both are starting to pieter out and will fail at some point,” Summerlin told me.
DSCOVR will replace the solar winds alerts currently being provided only by the aging Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite launched in 1997.
It is a joint project between NASA, NOAA and the U.S Air Force (USAF) that will be managed by NOAA.
The couch sized spacecraft will be launched in January 2015 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Falcon 9 rocket is being provided by the USAF under their launch services contract with SpaceX.
DSCOVR is targeted for injection to the L1 Lagrange Point where it will make simultaneous scientific observations of the solar wind and the entire sunlit side of Earth with a suite of science instruments from NASA and NOAA.
L1 point is a neutral gravity point that lies on the direct line between Earth and the sun located 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) sunward from Earth.
DSCOVR L1 orbit diagram. Credit: NOAA
The probe will give an early warning of incoming geomagnetic storms and space weather alerts with a lead time of 15 to 60 minutes.
“DSCOVR’s primary purpose is to provide the continuity of the space weather information, which is useful to NOAA, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force which is why they are providing the launch,” Summerlin explained.
“With the solar wind data, NOAA can provide the appropriate warning level to the space weather events. Anything that hits the Earth, will hit L1 first. We’ll get a much better estimate of the size of the event.”
“Right now we can’t really use observations on the sun to predict when an event will hit the Earth, with the really dangerous energetic particles. We can’t see the energetic particles in the atmosphere of the sun.”
From L1, the satellite’s sensors can monitor the constant stream of highly energetic particles emanating from the sun before they impact Earth and thereby provide advanced warning of approaching solar storms with the potential to cripple electrical grids, disrupt communication systems, throw off GPS navigation, reroute air travel, affect satellite operations, impact current on oil flow through pipelines and endanger human crews aboard the ISS.
“So the L1 point is the most reliable means right now for saying something will happen and this is how big it will be, and it will happen in 15 minutes,” Summerlin elaborated to AmericaSpace.
And that 15 minute warning is sufficiently long to be useful for spacecraft operators, Summerlin told me.
“They can go into safe mode.”
If ACE fails before DSCOVR is launched there will be an immediate gap in ACE’s unique solar wind observations and the early warning space weather alerts.
The 750 kilogram DSCOVR probe measures 54 inches by 72 inches. It carries four main solar science and Earth science instruments from NASA and NOAA that will operate continuously.
NOAA/NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) undergoes final processing in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center clean room in November 2014. NASA Earth science instruments and Earth imaging camera (white circle) at upper left. Credit: Ken Kremer 
NOAA’s Plasma-Magnetometer (PlasMag) instrument is comprised of a magnetometer and faraday cup that measures solar wind activity, including the magnetic field and the velocity distribution (magnitude and direction) of solar wind particles with higher time resolution than existing instruments.
NASA’s pair of Earth science instruments include the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR).
EPIC will provide spectral images of the entire sunlit face of Earth, as viewed from an orbit around L1. It will view the entire sunlit Earth from sunrise to sunset and collect a variety of science measurements include on ozone, aerosols, dust and volcanic ash, vegetation properties, cloud heights and more.
EPIC will capture full disk images of Earth about every two hours that will be publically available within 24 hours via NASA Langley.
NISTAR is a cavity radiometer designed to measure the absolute spectral irradiance (power of electromagnetic radiation) reflected and emitted from the entire sunlit face of the Earth.
NOAA will provide the space weather alerts from its instruments while NASA will process the Earth science data from the agency’s instruments.
All of the science instruments currently aboard DSCOVR were there as part of the original Triana mission instruments.
“No instruments have been added,” noted Al Vernacchio, DSCOVR Project Manager from NASA Goddard, in an interview at the clean room.
Technician works on NASA Earth science instruments and Earth imaging EPIC camera (white circle) housed on NOAA/NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) inside NASA Goddard Space Flight Center clean room in November 2014. Probe is set for January 2015 launch. Credit: Ken Kremer
The NOAA instruments were relocated on the magnetometer boom to improve their performance, noted Vernacchio.
The DSCOVR satellite was developed in a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for Earth science and space weather observations and has a complicated and controversial history.
It was originally known as ‘Triana’ (aka Goresat) and was conceived by then US Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton Administration as a low cost satellite to take near continuous views of the Earth’s entire globe to feed to the internet as a means of motivating students to study math and science.
Triana was initially built in the late 1990s by NASA, but as a much more capable Earth science satellite to provide not only the near continuous views of Earth, but also measurements of Earth’s albedo as well as to conduct the space weather observations.
But for various reasons, mostly related to partisan political battles in Washington, DC. between Democrats and Republicans, the completed Triana satellite project was canceled and placed into long term storage in 2001 – after spending all the money to develop it!
DSCOVER was taken out of storage in 2008 with funding from NOAA and the USAF for evaluation by NASA.
NASA retested and recalibrated the instruments, tested the mechanisms, provided new electrical components and conducted environmental tests of the observatory.
It was resurrected with the new name to avoid past controversy.
At long last, DSCOVER’s valuable science contributions are on the path to begin in the High Frontier in about two months time.
NOAA/NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) undergoes final processing in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center clean room in November 2014. Probe will launch in January 2015 atop SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: Ken Kremer 
Quelle: AS
Update: 31.12.2014


The U.S. Air Force (USAF) in conjunction with Space Exploration Technologies or “SpaceX,”and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA announced a delay in the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR ) mission. Originally slated for Jan. 23 2015, DSCOVR is now scheduled to launch no earlier than Jan. 29, 2015. The mission is set to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 on top of a Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX ) Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket.
NOAA, along with its partners are continuing to monitor any risk to the launch schedule and reports show both the vehicle and the payload are in great health. The launch delay is presumed to be a result of the delayed SpaceX commercial resupply mission (CRS-5).
Previously scheduled for Dec. 19, an anomaly during a pre-launch static fire test of the Falcon 9 delayed the launch, with a new date set for Jan. 6, 2015. By pushing back the launch date for the DSCOVR mission, there would be more cushion in Jan.’s launch schedule that currently includes two SpaceX launches and one ULA launch.
DSCOVR is desgined to maintain real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities vital to the accuracy of NOAA’s weather forecasts and alerts. Without these warning capabilities, critical space weather events, such as geomagnetic storms, could potentially interfere with public infrastructures including power grids, and aviation and communications systems.
From its orbital position, DSCOVR will provide warning times of 15-60 minutes prior to any surge of cosmic particles usually associated with coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and geomagnetic storms. Data provided will be used to predict the locations on Earth where the storms will hit.
Be sure to stay tuned to Spaceflight Insider for continuing information on this mission.
Quelle: SI
Update: 21.01.2015

Launch delayed for NOAA solar weather observation satellite

The scheduled launch of the satellite that will serve as the orbiting eyes of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder has been delayed.
Previously, the earliest launch time for the satellite known as the Deep Space Climate Observatory had been set for Jan. 31.
But today, the U.S. Air Force, acting in its capacity as the launch services provider with SpaceX, and with concurrence from NOAA and NASA, announced it is now expected to launch no earlier than Feb. 8. If the satellite goes off that day, the scheduled launch time would be 4:10 p.m. MST.
DSCOVR is slated to take the place of NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer, which was launched in 1997, and is well past the endpoint of its designed lifespan.
An announcement posted to the NOAA website stated that NOAA "continues to monitor any risk to the schedule in close coordination with its partners and will provide updates as they are available."
Quelle: DailyCamera
Update: 31.01.2015
NASA TV Coverage Set for NOAA DSCOVR Launch Feb. 8
The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is scheduled to launch at 6:10 p.m. EST Sunday, Feb. 8 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. A backup launch opportunity is available at 6:07 p.m. on Feb. 9, if needed.
NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 3:30 p.m. In addition to launch coverage, NASA TV also will air a prelaunch news conference at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7.
DSCOVR is a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force and will maintain the nation’s solar wind observations capability. These observations are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA’s space weather alerts, forecasts, warnings and space weather events like geomagnetic storms caused by changes in solar wind. Such events can affect public infrastructure systems including power grids, telecommunications systems and avionics aboard aircraft.
DSCOVR succeeds NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer in supporting solar observations and will provide 15 to 60 minute warning time to improve predictions of geomagnetic storm impact locations.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 4.02.2015

NOAA space weather sentinel joined with Falcon 9 rocket

The Deep Space Climate Observatory is pictured inside the Astrotech satellite processing facility in Titusville, Florida. One half of the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing is seen behind the spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
A new space weather observatory to be stationed a million miles from Earth has been enclosed inside the nose cone of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff Sunday from Cape Canaveral.
The Deep Space Climate Observatory was filled with maneuvering fuel, tested and verified ready for launch, then encapsulated inside the Falcon 9 launcher’s 5.2-meter (17.1-foot) diameter payload fairing at the Astrotech spacecraft processing facility near Kennedy Space Center.
The satellite rolled out of Astrotech on Saturday night for a short road trip to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 hangar at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad. Once it arrived, the payload housing was tilted on its side and hooked up to the Falcon 9’s second stage.
Final testing is underway this week to ensure the refrigerator-sized spacecraft and the rocket work together. The booster should be rolled out of the hangar and erected on the launch pad this weekend.
The Falcon 9 rocket has completed a brief on-pad firing of its nine Merlin 1D first stage engines in a customary preflight test after a practice countdown.
Liftoff of the 22-story rocket is set for 6:10 p.m. EST (2310 GMT) Sunday, about two minutes after sunset on Florida’s Space Coast.
The Falcon 9’s 15th flight will send DSCOVR on a high-speed trajectory to escape the grip of Earth’s gravity.
DSCOVR is a joint project between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force. The satellite will be positioned at the L1 libration point a million miles away from Earth, where its instruments will monitor space weather and the solar wind for a planned five-year mission.
The Air Force arranged the DSCOVR mission’s liftoff with SpaceX, paying the California-based space transportation company $97 million under a launch services contract signed in December 2012.
NOAA is the overall manager of the DSCOVR program, with NASA assisting with satellite preparation and prelaunch processing.
The Air Force signed the DSCOVR launch order — plus a Falcon Heavy launch reserved for multiple defense-related experimental satellites — under the service’s Orbital/Suborbital Program 3 (OSP 3) contract, which allows contractors to compete to launch the military’s smaller spacecraft.
SpaceX and the Air Force expect to complete certification of the Falcon 9 rocket to launch more critical Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class (EELV-class) national security satellites later this year. The certification will allow SpaceX to compete directly against United Launch Alliance for the military’s most expensive communications, navigation and spy satellites.
ULA is not part of the OSP 3 contract, and the incumbent EELV contractor did not bid to launch the DSCOVR mission.
SpaceX plans a second try to recover the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster during Sunday’s launch. An untried rocket-assisted flyback maneuver on SpaceX’s last launch Jan. 10 guided the 14-story booster to a football field-sized barge in the Atlantic Ocean, but the company said the rocket’s stabilizing winglets ran out of hydraulic fluid on final descent to a vertical propulsive landing.
The booster crashed on the landing platform, but SpaceX recovered wreckage and returned the debris to port aboard the barge.
The Falcon 9 rocket with DSCOVR carries additional hydraulic fluid to avoid a recurrence of the problem.
Engineers will inspect the Falcon 9 booster if the flyback experiment works as designed on Sunday’s flight, determining what work is required to refurbish the rocket for another mission.
SpaceX hopes to make the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage reusable in the future in a bid to cut the cost of space launches.
Quelle: SN
Update: 6.02.2015

Boulder-based Ball Aerospace to play big role in NASA DSCOVR mission

Ball Aerospace's NISTAR instrument for the DSCOVR mission precisely measures how much solar radiation is being reflected from the earth back toward the sun. It's the first instrument to make this direct measurement, instead of stitching together a patchwork of data from multiple sources, as scientists have done in the past. (Photo provided by Ball Aerospace )
Two instruments from Boulder-based Ball Aerospace are at the heart of a space mission that will help scientists understand climate change and better protect Earth from the effects of solar storms.
The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a joint mission between NASA, the U.S. Air Force and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 4:10 p.m. Mountain time Sunday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
DSCOVR will conduct its science 1 million miles from Earth — or about four times further than the orbit of the Moon — orbiting at the Lagrangian point 1, or (L1), a neutral gravity point where the spacecraft can remain in continuous orbital sync with the Earth around the Sun.
"It sits in an orbit where the Earth is always sunlit, so it's almost like you're standing on the Sun and looking at Earth," Ball Aerospace's director of advanced imaging Mark LaPole said.
Most Earth-observing satellites orbit at about 22,300 miles, according to NASA.
Since particles from solar winds and storms reach L1 about an hour before they hit Earth, DSCOVR will help the NOAA to more quickly and accurately generate space weather alerts and forecasts.
These winds and flares are related to geomagnetic storms that can disrupt communication and navigational systems, damage satellites, and at times even take power grids off line.
Ball Aerospace engineers created one of the mission's two main science instruments — the National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer, or NISTAR — which will measure how much solar energy Earth absorbs and reflects.
This data is fundamental to understanding climate change — the more energy Earth absorbs, the hotter the planet gets.
"NISTAR will be the first instrument to make such a direct measurement. Others have relied on stitched-together data from multiple sources, each with its own characteristics, geometry and distortion," LaPole said. "Having a continuous look at that stuff, without having to stitch it all together, will be a real scientific coup."
Data collected by NISTAR will be accompanied by images from the Lockheed Martin-made Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, or EPIC, also on board.
EPIC combines images from 10 different wavelength ranges to help scientists understand ozone, dust, cloud height, vegetation cover and more — all of which affect the climate.
In order to collect the data, the instruments must remain pointed at the Earth at all times. The Ball Aerospace-made CT633 star tracker will help keep DISCOVR oriented.
The star tracker uses camera-like sensors that fire about 10 times per second, orienting the spacecraft in relation to known objects such as stars, the sun, Earth and its moon. It can do this a million times a day.
"It's just like when driving and you're looking out the window and correcting where the vehicle is headed. It does the same thing by looking at the stars," LaPole said.
DSCOVR is replacing NASA's rapidly-aging Advanced Composition Explorer , which has been orbiting since 1997.
Ball Aerospace is a division of Broomfield-based Ball Corp., which on Thursday reported full-year 2014 net earnings of $470 million on sales of $8.6 billion.
Company CEO John Hayes gave a lion's share of the credit to the aerospace division.
"Our global beverage can business performed very well in the year, and our aerospace business also achieved record results through solid program execution and the benefit of several launches," Hayes said.
The company's 2014 aerospace division reported operating earnings of $93.6 million on sales of $934.8 million — a $13.5 million operating earnings increase from $80.1 million in 2013.
Ball Corp. is also in talks to acquire Rexam PLC — its U.K.-based rival — for an about $6.6 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Rexam, which makes more than 60 billion cans a year, has plans to increase output in the Middle East, Central America and Southeast Asia — all areas Ball reported as weaker year-over-year due to several factors, including lower-than-expected demand in China.
Quelle: The Denver Post
Update: 7.02.2015
Quelle. AS
Update: 8.02.2015 
Quelle: SpaceX
Update: 21.55 MEZ
Launch Tonight
Falcon 9 targeted to lift off at 6:10pm EST carrying the DSCOVR satellite. DSCOVR, a satellite in partnership with NOAA, NASA, and the USAF, will observe space weather from the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point, 1,500,000 kilometers (930,000 mi) from Earth.
Quelle: SpaceX
Update: 9.02.2015 / 7.40 MEZ
Launch Postponed
Today’s launch of the DSCOVR mission is scrubbed due to loss of the Air Force’s Eastern Range radar, which is required for launch. Earliest next opportunity is tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 9th at 6:07pm ET.
CBS News
Launch of a satellite dreamed up 17 years ago by Al Gore to provide continuous views of Earth via the internet and now repurposed to serve as a space weather station will have to wait at least one more day to get into space, thanks to problems with an Air Force radar that derailed a launch try Sunday.
Perched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, spacecraft had been scheduled for liftoff from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:10 p.m. EST. But just two minutes and 27 seconds before liftoff, the countdown was aborted when engineers were unable to fix the radar problem in time.
SpaceX also had problems with a video transmitter on the first stage of the Falcon 9, but that gear was not required for launch. In any case, the scrub was a disappointment for the launch team and, presumably, to Gore, who was on hand for the flight.
Update: 10.02.2015 /23.55 MEZ
Start wegen starken Wind um 24 Stunden verschoben:
Upper level winds delayed the launch of NOAA’s DSCOVR on Tuesday, the next opportunity is Wednesday at 6:03 p.m. EST A SpaceX Falcon 9 will place the spacecraft on a course to L1, an area about a million miles from Earth. DSCOVR will provide critical data necessary for NOAA space weather forecasters to issue timely and accurate warnings of solar storms.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 11.02.2015 / 23.10 MEZ LIVE
... 23.45 MEZ
...23.55 MEZ
Frams: NASA-TV
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