DCIRBE continuously sends beacon packets through the omnidirectional UHF antenna as it flies. When LASP picks up CIRBE’s beacon packet on the horizon, CIRBE will be commanded to perform a groundstation pass maneuver by pointing its high data rate S-band antenna toward LASP’s groundstation. During each pass, science data will be downlinked and a new set of flight commands will be uplinked to CIRBE. Following the groundstation pass, CIRBE will return to nominal science mode and continue its UHF beacons.
This animation illustrates CIRBE flying through Earth’s magnetic field in a sun-synchronous orbit. CIRBE’s science instrument, REPTile-2, will always be pointed perpendicular to the local magnetic field lines during nominal science mode, and CIRBE’s solar panels will always be pointed normal to the sun. This “Rotisserie Mode” allows CIRBE to stay power-positive while constantly collecting science data. As CIRBE flies over LASP, it will point its S-band antenna toward the groundstation to downlink the science data it has collected on-orbit.