Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Some of our collaborators

Any given scientist is not an island to paraphrase John Donne. As I am sure that you can tell through reading our posts we work constantly with other satellite teams, ground teams, and other scientists. Last year (and hopefully this year) we had some great collaborations with REPtile. This year we've got another cube sat FIREBIRD. They launched in December and have been grabbing some great data. They had a very exciting launch!

Movie shot from just outside NASA control center at Vandenberg AFB of our Atlas V roaring into orbit, carrying FIREBIRD and several other CubeSats along with its primary national security payload. The first minute of launch was absolutely blinding and deafening in person - never been allowed this close to a launch of such a large rocket - just beyond the "debris field" distance. Breathtaking!!! The pressure waves literally caused my shirt sleeves to flap, set off all the car alarms, and produced some truly eerie sound effects bouncing off anything that resonated within ear shot (including power lines, buildings, cars, etc.). Three hours later, FIREBIRD was successfully deployed, and an hour later went through its automatic power on sequence. Still getting early contacts with the "twins" and assessing on orbit performance over next few days. Thanks to the entire FIREBIRD team and agency support from NSF and NASA to make this happen. Go FIREBIRD! - Harlan Spence

FIREBIRD, unlike REPTile or the Van Allen Probes, cares what orientation the satellite is when we are having a conjunction with them. Thus, their KML files have two different icons. 

We've already been able to identify what we believe will be some exciting days to study with them. Now we just need to finish grabbing the data from the satellite and find some time to look at the results.   

We also have been working closely with the Van Allen Probes and specifically the EFW team. It has been a blast to work with the entire team, and we have to say see you later to one of them. John Bonnell, the EFW Soc manager, is taking a month leave or so to run a new rocket campaign. GREECE. We're sad to see him leave for a bit, but we know Peter, his replacement, will do an amazing job. Peter is the guy who has made sure that all the burst collection and download commands we want to send to the spacecraft make it all okay. He has put up with our indecision at times and has had amazing patience. You can keep up with John's rocket campaign at their blog.

We wish John great luck and we'll see him when he gets back. Hopefully we'll still have a few balloons up for him.