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Mission Highlights

On any individual mission, LASP may have one or more roles: science direction and research, engineering of an individual instrument or component, engineering of an entire instrument suite, mission operations of individual instruments, or mission operations for the spacecraft as a whole. CU undergraduate and graduate students are involved in many of these roles; student participation in Mission Operations & Data Systems, particularly in Flight Operations, is one of our ongoing strengths.

Below, we highlight the role of LASP Mission Operations & Data Systems on a small selection of ongoing and retired missions. For a full listing, please see Mission Project & History.


Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM)

AIM is a NASA mission that is helping scientists study polar mesospheric clouds, which usually form only at high latitudes near the north and south poles. LASP built two of the three instruments and the instrument pallet assembly, and Mission Operations & Data Systems operates the spacecraft and processes and analyzes the data. AIM is an example of a mission that involves many levels of LASP participation—science, engineering, and data analysis on the instrument level, and mission operations on the mission level.

For more information, see Quick Facts about AIM.

Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat)

ICESat is one of NASA’s most well-known Earth missions; during its long and productive life, ICESat took data to help scientists understand the affects of Earth’s atmosphere and climate on polar ice masses and global sea level. LASP’s involvement with ICESat was solely through mission operations; the division operated the spacecraft during its seven-year mission and helped complete its successful decommission and deorbit.

For more information, see Quick Facts about ICESat.

Kepler Telescope

The Kepler mission has seized the popular imagination with its unique mission: to search our galaxy for habitable Earth-size planets. The Kepler spacecraft and primary instrument—a space-borne telescope—is operated at LASP using the NASA Deep Space Network. Students are an integral part of Kepler operations, and are one of the reasons that LASP mission operations was selected. LASP mission operations, because we rely on certified student operators, is able to offer both low-cost and highly reliable services.

For more information, see Quick Facts about Kepler.

Solar Dynamics Observatory EUV Variability Experiment (SDO/EVE)

The The EVE instrument flies aboard the NASA SDO spacecraft, monitoring the solar spectrum every 10 seconds. At these wavelengths, the brightness of the sun can rise and fall a hundredfold within seconds, heating and “puffing up” the Earth’s upper atmosphere. EVE is an example of LASP scientific, engineering, and mission operations expertise coming together to support the design, build, and operation of a science instrument. In addition to these activities, LASP is also responsible for processing and making available a fire hose of data just 15 minutes after EVE transmits it to us: 7 million bits every second, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. This is the equivalent of downloading 20,000 songs per day.

For more information, see Quick Facts about EVE.

Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE)

The NASA SORCE mission carries four instruments that take data to help scientists understand the influence of the Sun on the Earth system. LASP developed and built all four instruments, operates the spacecraft, plans instrument activities, and handles data processing and analysis. SORCE is an example of a mission that benefitted from LASP involvement in all areas—science, engineering, and operations.

For more information, see Quick Facts about SORCE.