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Mission Status Report #92      Star Date: December 23, 2005

FUSE Operations Update

Caption: The FUSE satellite floats in front of an infrared image of the Carina Nebula, a region of intense star formation, taken with the Spitzer Space Telescope. Many hot stars within this nebula, including the enigmatic Eta Carina itself, have been the subject of intense study with FUSE observations. Joint observations at several wavelengths using facilities from ground-based telescopes to NASA space telescopes are needed to fully understand complex processes such as star formation. (Graphic courtesy NASA and Lauren Fowler, the JHU FUSE project.)

(Click image above to see larger version.)

It is hard to believe but it was almost exactly a year ago (Dec. 27) that FUSE lost a reaction wheel, leaving the satellite with only one active wheel for controlling the pointing (see this previous report). We have come a long way over this past year, and today we have concluded nearly two months of science operations with the New FUSE satellite. It has been a hectic period of continued learning, but we have successfully demonstrated that we can operate FUSE with its current limitations and garner quality science observations.

One thing we have learned is that the New FUSE takes a lot of monitoring to keep it happy. While this works well during normal staffing periods, it is harder for us to plan a section of timeline and then just send FUSE away to perform on its own. We sometimes have to cajole it or tweak it into performing the way we want it to.

That being said, you can hopefully understand why we have just put FUSE to sleep for "...a long winter's nap" so that we can get through the upcoming holiday period. Recall the FUSE project is well into our extended mission phase. We do not have the staff to run the control center 24/7, and holiday periods are particularly hard to handle (staffing wise). Plus a lot of people have put in a lot of extra hours as we have brought FUSE back into science operations. They deserve a bit of a break. Hence, we will give FUSE a rest until early in 2006 and let our operations team recharge as well.

Another piece of news is that the results for FUSE Cycle 7 have been announced by NASA, and we should soon receive a new pool of science targets specifically chosen for the part of the sky we can currently observe. As these targets become available for scheduling, we should see an increase in science production.

We are expecting a big FUSE presence at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington DC during the second week of January, including on Thursday Jan. 12, when there will be a special session on FUSE results.

As usual, I 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 improve the FUSE control system.

A Happy Holiday to everyone from the FUSE project, and here's looking forward to better things in 2006!

Reported by: Bill Blair, FUSE Chief of Observatory Operations

Last Update: December 23, 2005

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