Mission Status Report #93 Star Date: January 27, 2006
FUSE Operations Improving Steadily
Caption: The FUSE satellite is seen superimposed on an ultraviolet image of the nearby galaxy M31, the Andromeda galaxy. The clumps of bluish-white are giant clusters of newly forming stars. Regions such as these in nearby galaxies are of intense interest to astronomers and are well suited to FUSE observations. (Graphic courtesy NASA and Lauren Fowler, the JHU FUSE project.)
It has been some time since I last reported on FUSE status. I am delighted to say that FUSE is operating well, and that there has been significant progress in smoothing out operations in the one-reaction-wheel control mode.
Since restarting operations on January 3rd, after a break during the holiday period, we have been in continuous operations with almost no problems. Our target acquisition and guiding performance has also improved since revised planning software was put in place that helps us better avoid periods with marginal stability.
Another milestone was achieved recently when we demonstrated a large slew capability with the new control system. Since FUSE can point stably in a region near the north pole of the orbit and near the south pole, we have to be able to get back and forth when we need to. After careful planning, we tried slewing north-to-south on January 18, almost half way around the sky in one big motion, and the system performed beautifully! This is good news as it improves our planning flexibility significantly as we go downstream.
More good news is that we aren't done making improvements! Our JHU operations team and Orbital Sciences Corporation have been developing another update of the on-board control software, which should be tested and ready in about a month. Testing indicates we should be able to achieve even more stable pointing and performance when this software is loaded to the satellite.
FUSE scientific results were highlighted in a number of presentations at the recent American Astronomical Society meeting January 8-12, 2006, in Washington, DC. In all, we counted 43 FUSE-related presentations. A special session on FUSE science was scheduled on Thursday, and a special coordinated poster session contained 23 separate results! This was a very strong showing, and indicates there is still plenty of science coming out of FUSE.
We have posted an AAS 207 Summary page with photos and PDF files of many of the science results that have been contributed voluntarily by the authors. Thanks to them for sharing these results through our web site.
I also offer continued thanks to all of the FUSE Sciences Operations team, including our partners on the Mission Operations Team from Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc., and our colleagues at Orbital Sciences Corporation, as well as the JHU operations staff, for their efforts so far, and for their ongoing efforts as we continue to improve FUSE operations.
A Happy New Year to everyone from the FUSE project, and here's looking forward to better things ahead!
Reported by: Bill Blair, FUSE Chief of Observatory Operations
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