Ball Aerospace Advanced Radiometer For NIST To Fly On DSCOVR Mission

Scripps-NIST Advanced Radiometer built by Ball Aerospace for the DSCOVR mission. Image Credit: Ball Aerospace

Scripps-NIST Advanced Radiometer built by Ball Aerospace for the DSCOVR mission. Image Credit: Ball Aerospace

February 3, 2015 – A Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. instrument aboard a mission designed to measure the irradiance from Earth’s sunlit face is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on February 8, 2015. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) for NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force. The mission is designed to provide solar wind monitoring and forecasting and to aid scientists in measuring the energy exchange between the Earth and sun.

Ball Aerospace developed the advanced radiometer instrument – called Scripps NISTAR – working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The radiometer is designed to measure the Earth’s total reflected and emitted energy in the 0.2 to 100 micron range, and is based on the NIST electrical-substitution and Ball modular instrument controller technologies.

“After years of hard work we are looking forward to the Ball radiometer developed with NIST and Scripps along with the star tracker finally having their day in the sun,” said Jim Oschmann, Ball’s vice president and general manager for Civil Space and Technology. “Ball has a long history of building instruments critical to keeping track of our planet’s health.”

Ball also provided DSCOVR with the CT633 star tracker. In preparation for the mission, the tracker was recalibrated, and outfitted with an improved lightshade and software. Final verification included solar testing in the Ball Stray Light Facility. Ball Aerospace provides navigation hardware for NASA, USGS and military customers including more than 400 star sensors for multiple space missions since 1964.

The spacecraft’s ultimate destination will be the first sun-Earth Lagrange point (L1), located 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) sunward from Earth, a neutral gravity point between Earth and the sun.

DSCOVR will maintain the nation’s solar wind observations capability. These observations are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA’s space weather alerts, forecasts, warnings and space weather events like geomagnetic storms caused by changes in solar wind. Such events can affect public infrastructure systems including power grids, telecommunications systems and avionics aboard aircraft.

DSCOVR succeeds NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer in supporting solar observations and will provide 15 to 60 minute warning time to improve predictions of geomagnetic storm impact locations.

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is scheduled to launch at 4:10 p.m. MST Sunday, February 8 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. A backup launch opportunity is available at 4:07 p.m. MST on February 9, if needed.

NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 1:30 p.m. In addition to launch coverage, NASA TV also will air a prelaunch news conference at 11 a.m. Saturday, February 7.

For NASA TV schedules and video streaming information, visit: