STUDENT-BUILT TERRIERS SATELLITE EXPERIENCING DIFFICULTIES
(Boston, Mass)-The TERRIERS satellite, built by students at Boston University and launched Tuesday morning, so far has not been able to orient itself so that its solar panels fully face the sun and seems to have run out of battery power, according to project managers.
"We remain hopeful that the solar panel will slowly charge the spacecraft and that, in time, the satellite will turn itself on," says Dan Cotton, principal investigator. "Our current data indicate that the spacecraft is in the correct orbit and spinning appropriately about the right axis."
The project managers are reviewing the data for information on the status of the spacecraft and will continue to monitor it for indications of a power build-up.
The spacecraft was successfully launched at 1:09 a.m. EDT Tuesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., aboard an Orbital Science Corp. Pegasus rocket.
"It appears from looking at the data that the flight of the Pegasus was normal. However, we are reviewing that data in detail to be sure that the launch did not contribute to the spacecraft's current problem," said Ray Lugo, NASA launch manager, Kennedy Space Center, FL.
The first data from TERRIERS were received at a pass over the ground station at approximately 7:07 a.m. EDT. That data indicated the mission was proceeding as planned. The first indication that the spacecraft was not properly oriented to the sun came at the second pass over the Boston University ground station at 8:38 a.m. EDT. Controllers sent commands to the spacecraft to aid in acquiring the sun on the third pass at 10:15 a.m. EDT. Boston University TERRIERS team members were unable to communicate with the satellite from the ground station at the 8:14 p.m. pass over Boston on Tuesday, May 18.
TERRIERS is one of three NASA-funded missions under the Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative (STEDI). The Universities Space Research Association of Columbia, MD, administers the STEDI program for NASA. Information about STEDI can be found on the Internet at: http://cass.jsc.nasa.gov/stedi/overview.html. Information about the TERRIERS project is available at the Boston University web site at: http://www.bu.edu/satellite.
TERRIERS, an acronym for Tomographic Experiment using Radiative Recombinative Ionospheric Extreme ultraviolet and Radio Sources, was launched to help provide a much better understanding of how changes in the ionosphere -- the electrically charged region of the upper atmosphere -- affect global communication systems, satellites, cell phones and pagers. It was named for the University's mascot, the Boston Terrier.
Further information and images of the TERRIERS mission are available at: http://www.bu.edu/satellite.
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May 19, 1999