Space | 24. June 2010

Second and third mission days – Neustrelitz ground station receives first test data

After the launch night, where everything worked out so perfectly, we have continued in the same way over the last two days. After we – that is, of course, both shifts working alternately – had tested the various elements of the attitude and orbit control system, we began with the start up of the instruments. The various elements of the instruments (from electronics to the actual radar) have each been turned on individually; then, internal test routines were run and, after testing, the units were switched off again. Analysis showed that, in every case, all was well and nothing stood in the way of the activation of the complete radar.

We were not quite ready for that; there were still some preparations to be made. First, we performed a test to confirm that the transmission of the radar data to the ground stations functions correctly. The data is sent to Earth by means of an antenna on a deployable boom. The unfolding of the boon was a very tense moment, because a failure at this stage would have made the mission almost impossible to carry out. The data transfer test was conducted this morning with the DLR ground station in Neustrelitz and all test data were received successfully.

For the acquisition of radar images, the next task was to bring the mission planning system online. As its name suggests, this system performs the planning of all the steps needed to obtain radar images. For this, a great deal of additional information is required; the participating DLR institutes in Oberpfaffenhofen and Braunschweig supply this. The DLR Microwaves and Radar Institute provides the radar parameters required to image the desired area of the Earth’s surface correctly, while the Applied Remote Sensing Institute Cluster performs the processing of the data once it has been received. Finally, the Flight Dynamics Division of the DLR Institute of Flight Systems in Braunschweig supplies the orbit information.

This work was performed in parallel to the satellite ground segment activities and the whole team is now at fever pitch, awaiting the first images.