Mission Status Report #63 Star Date: Dec. 12, 2002
FUSE Continues on Track
Caption: Graphic showing how FUSE would look on-orbit. The telescopes are looking toward the upper left in this picture, and only two of the four telescope doors are visible from this angle. The blue rectangles represent the solar panels, which connect to the spacecraft at the bottom. As the background shows, there are a LOT of stars out there for FUSE to look at! (Figure courtesy JHU FUSE project.)
I am happy to report that operations with FUSE continue to go very smoothly at this writing. December 1 marked three years since the beginning of science operations, although due to the downtime one year ago from reaction wheel anomalies we are still mid-way in the Cycle 3 observing schedule. Cycle 3 will continue through March 2003, and Cycle 4 of FUSE observing, the first cycle in the so-called FUSE Extended Mission, will begin after that.
Work continues on the development and testing of a new flight software system for FUSE. This effort is an important aspect of keeping FUSE healthy and able to perform science operations for years to come. While we are not currently having problems with our gyroscopes, there is concern that we could lose one or more of our remaining (5) gyros at any time. The new software system is being designed to allow FUSE to operate if less than a full complement of gyros is available. (The new system will even be robust enough to allow operation with NO gyros if we have to, although this situation should not occur for at least several years!) At this point, the development of the system is just about complete, and testing on ground support equipment is taking place daily. In mid-to-late January 2003, we plan to uplink the new software to the real satellite, and start testing and operating with it. This procedure will be somewhat akin to performing a brain transplant on our "living" satellite (although if anything goes awry, we can always put the old brain back in place temporarily). Wish us luck!
The selection of Cycle 4 observing programs is in progress, and NASA plans to announce the results of the selections in January 2003. The team here at Hopkins looks forward to implementing another year of exciting science observations with the FUSE satellite.
Happy Holidays to all!
Reported by: Bill Blair, Chief of Observatory Operations
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