The IMAGE Science and Mission Operations Center (SMOC)

IMAGE operations are conducted from the IMAGE Science and Mission Operations Center (SMOC), a 1000-square-foot secure facility at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland. The SMOC contains all the workstations, personal computers, local data storage devices, printers, and telecommunications equipment used by the IMAGE flight operations team. Because the payload and spacecraft are designed to be relatively autonomous and to require little maintenance, the SMOC will be staffed only 40 hours a week following initial orbit checkout and the begin of normal operations. During the rest of the time, the SMOC will function in a "lights out" mode, with automatic monitoring of the health of the IMAGE spacecraft. Should a problem occur when the SMOC is in "lights out" mode, an automated Spacecraft Emegency Response System will identify which members of the IMAGE team need to be notified and page them through the Skytel paging network.

Science Operations

The deployment of the RPI antennas and activation of all the instruments will take place during the first month after launch. Once science operations begin, at launch plus 30 days, all instruments will be operated continuously. Except for the RPI and EUV, the time resolution of the instruments is set by the two-minute spin period of the spacecraft. RPI has a time resolution of 1 minute, while EUV integrates images over five spins to achieve a normal time resolution of ten minutes. This resolution will make it possible to study magnetospheric dynamics on the time scale of substorms. A minimum of instrument mode changes is anticipated, and spacecraft command uploads will normally occur only once per week.

Data Downlink, Processing, and Distribution

Science, engineering, and housekeeping data are stored on board the spacecraft and downlinked to the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) once every 14.2-hour orbit.* Downlink occurs at a rate of 2.28 Mbps. The raw telemetry data are sent from the receiving DSN station to the DSN Central Data Recorder at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. From there they are transferred by FTP to the SMOC, where they are processed for distribution and archiving in the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC). Within 24 hours of acquisition by the SMOC, the processed data are accessible on the Web for display and download from the IMAGE Data Delivery System. Documentation and analysis software can also be downloaded from the SMOC web server. After 30 days, the data are transferred to the NSSDC for active and permanent archive.

In keeping with the IMAGE project's open data philosophy, there are no proprietary data or periods. The IMAGE data will be available to the space science community and general public at the same time that they are available to the IMAGE team.

*In addition to the playback of stored data, the IMAGE spacecraft also continuously transmits real-time data at a nominal rate of 44 kbps. These real-time data will be used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Space Environments Center in Boulder, Colorado, for space weather forecasting.


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