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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

Successful MinXSS-2 end-to-end communications test

February 28, 2017

2017-02-28 09.29.29Just like we did for MinXSS-1 in 2015, this morning we brought MinXSS-2 up to Davidson Mesa several miles away from LASP. We had already tied down the deployable solar panels and antenna so that we could verify they opened at the right time. We pulled the pin on the spacecraft, which turns on the internal processor and a 30 minute timer starts counting down. This makes the spacecraft think it has just been ejected from a rocket or the Space Station. At T=0, it’s allowed to do its deployments, and we saw it do exactly that. The antenna came uncoiling out and then the two solar arrays popped open.

We also had a wifi hotspot setup so that we could remote into our ground station back at LASP. We were able to send commands to the spacecraft and view real time telemetry. The whole point of this end-to-end communications test is to ensure that everything in the pipe from spacecraft processor to ground computer software is working. There are a lot of links in that pipe. From the flight processor, data have to go to the flight radio then to the flight antenna, then through the air to the ground antenna then down cables to the ground radio then through the ground terminal node controller then over more cables to the computer which can then process, display, and log the data. All of that has to work in reverse as well so that we can send commands to the spacecraft. And there are a whole lot of amplifiers and the like in the pipe as well. Overall, the test was a complete success!