I am writing from the CONAE ground station in Cordoba, Argentina, during the commissioning of the Aquarius instrument on the Aquarius/SAC-D satellite. For the next two weeks the technical team here will go through the sequences to power-on the instrument and start collecting the first-look data. I will endeavor to send out an update on a daily basis, but no promises...
Yesterday, we powered on the Instrument Control and Data System (ICDS), the Aquarius on-board computer. Everything looks good so far.
Today we are executing commands to start the pre-deployment heaters, in preparation for the antenna deployment. This will be in two stages: the reflector (upper deployment mechanism, UDM) on Tuesday, followed by the boom (lower deployment mechanism, LDM) on Wednesday.
Here is the plan for the next several weeks. Things may change depending whether we encounter any issues. So far, things have been going smoothly yesterday and today. In a large part, this is a credit to how well organized and prepared our instrument engineering team is.
- Sun 14 Aug: ICDS power on - Complete
- Mon 15 Aug: Pre-deployment heaters power on - Complete
- Tue 16 Aug: Reflector deployment, between 1430 and 1500 Universal Time (UT)
- Wed 17 Aug: Boom deployment
- Thu 18 Aug: Radiometer digital processing unit (DPU) power on
- Fri 19 Aug: Active thermal control system (ATC) power on
- Sat 20 Aug: Software patches upload
- Sun 21 Aug: Radiometer RF on *** First Data
- 22 Aug - 27 Aug: Scatterometer turn on sequence (more details later)
- 28 Aug - 29 Aug: Mission mode & contingency day
- 30 Aug - 10 Sep: SACD instrument commissioning
- 11 Sep - 04 Oct: Final orbit adjustments