PRISMA Blog | 11. May 2011 | posted by Ralf Faller

Inuvik Ground Station in Use for PRISMA

Antenne der Bodenstation Inuvik
Antenne der Bodenstation Inuvik

The DLR ground station Inuvik is used for the PRISMA flight operations since April 18th 2011. The technical and administrative preparations were pushed forward for the last two months in order to provide a favorable alternative for the project.

The antenna in Inuvik in the Canadian North West Territories is operated by the German Remote Sensing Data Center DFD as part of German-Canadian cooperation. Since its inauguration in August last year, it is used as data reception station for the TanDEM-X mission. The station is located beyond the polar circle at 67.9° north und 21.0° east, which is a favorable station location for polar satellite missions. For PRISMA it allows to have at least 10 contacts per day. In addition it is an interesting alternative to the Kiruna ground station. Compared to the Swedish station, the contacts over Inuvik for European operators will take place during day times.

Antenne Inuvik

At the start of flight operations by GSOC at mid of March this year, PRISMA was operated via the station of the Swedish Space Coorperation SSC in Kiruna in north Sweden which allowed having contacts with the two satellites starting in the late afternoon through the night until early morning. After implementation of the GSOC station Weilheim 3 weeks later, Kiruna passes were replaced by Weilheim but the working hours were still the same. With Inuvik, it was now possible to contact PRISMA during normal office hours, so the operations were changed to day times shortly before Easter.

The daily flight operations are organized like that:

  • 1-2 passes with Weilheim in the morning: for the download of recorded data (history data dump) from the satellites and for telemetry checkouts, i.e. operational status, temperatures, power system etc.
  • 7 passes with Weilheim and Inuvik during office hours: for active flight operations with sending commands
  • 1-2 passes with Weilheim in the late afternoon: again for history data dumping and for telemetry monitoring of both satellites

The main flight operations shift consisting of a flight director, a guidance, navigation and control specialist and an operator are present at the control center only during the 7 active passes. During the remaining contacts and on weekends the GSOC operators are only monitoring the satellites’ functions without sending commands. During the night no station contacts will be used any more. Of course this can be changed on request.

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About the author

Ralf Faller has been a researcher in the Department of Space Operations and Astronaut Training at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen since 1991. His current responsibilities include robotic space and servicing missions. to authorpage

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