Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New RBSP instrument telemetry provides 'textbook' excitement

Date:
September 12, 2012
Source:
NASA
Summary:
In the very early hours of Sept. 1 -- just under two days since the 4:05 a.m. EDT launch of NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes -- the team at the RBSP Mission Operations Center (MOC) controlling spacecraft A at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. was about to power up that spacecraft's Relativistic Electron Proton Telescope (REPT-A), one of the instruments that comprise the Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma Suite (ECT).

The Relativistic Electron Proton Telescope (REPT) instrument of the Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma Suite (ECT) for RBSP spacecraft B, shown prior to installation.
Credit: JHU/APL

In the very early hours of Sept. 1 -- just under two days since the 4:05 a.m. EDT launch of NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes -- the team at the RBSP Mission Operations Center (MOC) controlling spacecraft A at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. was about to power up that spacecraft's Relativistic Electron Proton Telescope (REPT-A), one of the instruments that comprise the Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma Suite (ECT).

The RBSP MOC team counted down: "Three, two, one…."

"Confirm, we're seeing telemetry," was the reply from the REPT team. RBSP spacecraft B's REPT-B was turned on roughly 12 hours later, giving ECT principal investigator Harlan Spence of the University of New Hampshire and the ECT team live data of the particles in the belts from two spacecraft, never before gathered within the radiation belts, just three days after launch. (All ECT instruments are controlled from an operations center at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.)

"We have highly understandable, full science data right out of the box," says Spence. "The REPT units are performing identically in space as they did on the ground, exceeding our highest expectations and delivering outstanding scientific measurements of the radiation belts. We are on the exciting threshold of discovery."

If that wasn't impressive enough, on the same day that REPT-A was activated, the biggest solar proton event in the past two months (and a particularly quiet two months at that) occurred, giving researchers exactly the type of solar event they will use to study the behavior of the radiation belts. "There's been no end to the extreme weather the ECT team and RBSP has attracted," Spence says. "From the wildfires that affected the area around Los Alamos, to the hurricane that delayed the launch of RBSP, and now to the solar energetic proton storm."

Originally, REPT wasn't slated to be turned on just two days after launch -- it was supposed to be powered up about 30 days into the mission. But that changed when Daniel Baker, REPT Science Lead at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado, realized the short remaining lifespan of NASA's Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX, launched in 1992 and orbiting in a polar, low Earth orbit) meant that an important window for RBSP and SAMPEX to share data about the belts, sampled from very different places, was quickly closing. (REPT measures electrons with energies from 1.5 mega electron volts, or MeV, to more than 20 MeV and protons from 17 MeV to more than 100 MeV. These energies ranges significantly overlap similar measurements being made on SAMPEX.)

"I went on a campaign to get REPT turned on much earlier to assure that as much overlap of data as possible could occur," says Baker. "Everybody involved with RBSP, at NASA and APL and the other institutions saw the wisdom of this, and we got the turn-on time moved up."

Baker describes the science findings coming down from REPT as "beautiful data," and the solar energetic proton storm was a much-appreciated bonus. "The sun seemed to know what we were up to," Baker says. "It gave us just the stimulus we were looking for. It couldn't have been scripted any better."

"These are the fabulous results we've been waiting 20 years for," says Baker, "since SAMPEX and CRRES [Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite, launched 1990] were launched. Now we can compare what we're seeing to the empirical models we've been using for decades, and learn how the real observations compare with those models."

ECT's other instruments will be turned on in the coming weeks; the Magnetic Electron Ion Spectrometer (MagEIS) instruments (eight in total, four per spacecraft) were powered up on Thursday, Sept. 6, while the Helium Oxygen Proton Electron (HOPE) instrument will be the last RBSP instrument to be powered up, sometime in mid- to late October.

Launched on Aug. 30, 2012, RBSP is part of NASA's Living With a Star Program to explore aspects of the connected sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. LWS is managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. APL built the RBSP spacecraft and will manage the mission for NASA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "New RBSP instrument telemetry provides 'textbook' excitement." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912191428.htm>.
NASA. (2012, September 12). New RBSP instrument telemetry provides 'textbook' excitement. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912191428.htm
NASA. "New RBSP instrument telemetry provides 'textbook' excitement." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912191428.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins