Monthly Newsletter

March 2003

Mission Update –
Things are happening at the speed of light! Normal operations commenced on March 6 when the instruments on-board SORCE began making daily solar observations. Data are received two times each day through either the ground station at Wallops Island, Virginia or the station at Santiago, Chile.

Instrument Status –
The instruments are performing wonderfully. All instruments are in normal mode and they are collecting solar data daily. The scientists and engineers are meticulously reviewing the first preliminary data products and are very involved in the calibration process.
As expected, each instrument is experiencing its own unique set of opportunities leading to a greater understanding in many areas. One step at a time, the instruments and data products are being fine-tuned to maturity, and the end result will be an incredible set of solar measurements. Once the instruments are calibrated, future issues of SNS will feature in-depth information on the instruments, their data products, and analysis. Below is a brief summary of the current status of each SORCE instrument.

TIM – Breaking ground in TSI measurements, the TIM instrument is showing exciting promise. Scientists are working on data processing algorithms to implement the new phase sensitive detection method.
SIM – As a new invention, engineers and scientists are extremely pleased with SIM’s progress. Every mechanism and detector on SIM is functioning as it should, and the SIM team is currently in the midst of complex instrument calibrations.
SOLSTICE – Using the same stars for calibration purposes, the preliminary SORCE SOLSTICE results are in agreement with the UARS SOLSTICE measurements.
XPS – The first XPS measurements coming from SORCE compare very well with those of the XPS TIMED satellite measurements, which have been collected since January 2002.

Spacecraft Status –
All spacecraft systems are performing exceptionally well. As planned for this stage of the mission, the spacecraft is in normal mode with the CEU (Central Electronics Unit) in control and the solar arrays collecting solar power. The spacecraft is in its nominal Sun pointing mode.

Mission/Science Operations Center –
The MOC provides the computer hardware and software necessary to conduct real-time spacecraft operational activities, including command and control of the satellite, mission planning, and assessment and maintenance of spacecraft and instrument health. The science operations from the MOC include experiment planning, data processing and analysis, validation, and distribution of the finished data product.
Of course, everyone is excited and anxious to have calibrated data as soon as possible. Scientists are diligently working through the data to validate the solar measurements. The data are compared to similar instruments on other spacecrafts currently collecting comparable data products. Calibrated data products will begin to be available in a couple of months.

page 1