Press Release

Lockheed Martin ships NASA’s IMAGE spacecraft to Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site

By SpaceRef Editor
January 5, 2000
Filed under

Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space

Contact: Buddy Nelson

Phone: (510) 797-0349

E-Mail: [email protected]

Lockheed Martin ships NASA’s IMAGE spacecraft to Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site

SUNNYVALE, Calif., January 5, 2000 — Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space has shipped the Imager for
Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) spacecraft to the Vandenberg Air Force Base
launch in Central California. It is scheduled for launch on Feb. 15.

IMAGE was built, integrated with its payload, and tested at the Missiles & Space facility in Sunnyvale.
The spacecraft was developed under a subcontract with Southwest Research Institute, the principal
investigator institute for the mission. IMAGE was selected by NASA to be the first Medium-class
Explorer Mission. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. will manage the IMAGE mission.

“We’re enormously pleased to see IMAGE on its way to launch,” said Missiles & Space IMAGE program
manager Dale Vaccarello. “The entire IMAGE team here feels very satisfied that three years of intense
effort paid off and that the best possible spacecraft is finally on it’s way to the pad.”

“The hard work and dedication of the Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space team produced an on-time
delivery IMAGE to the launch site, a remarkable achievement considering the program’s limited budget
and the number of technical problems that had to be overcome,” said Bill Gibson, the Southwest
Research Institute program manager. “We are particularly grateful to the Missiles & Space integration
and test team for their work in integrating the complex scientific payload and executing an excellent
environmental test program.”

Missiles & Space was chosen in 1996 by the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) of San Antonio to
build spacecraft for IMAGE. In addition, the Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Advanced Technology
(ATC) in Palo Alto was involved with the development of two of the IMAGE scientific instruments, and
ATC personnel developed a star tracker used on the spacecraft for attitude determination and
pointing.

Following launch, the IMAGE observatory will be inserted into a highly elliptical polar orbit. The
spin-stabilized spacecraft will be oriented so that the IMAGE viewing instruments scan the Earth each
spacecraft revolution. The mission will last for two years.

IMAGE will be the first mission dedicated to imaging the magnetosphere as it changes shape. IMAGE will
three-dimensional imaging techniques to study the global response of the Earth’s magnetosphere to in
the magnetic activity of the sun. The magnetosphere is the region of space controlled by the Earth’s
magnetic field and populated with plasma — a gas consisting of equal numbers of positively and
negatively charged particles — of both solar wind and ionospheric origin. Its behavior is strongly
influenced by the solar wind, the supersonic stream of charged particles flowing out from the sun.

The most familiar manifestation of the magnetosphere’s interaction with the solar wind are auroras —
the Northern and Southern Lights. These colorful and sometimes impressive displays result from the
impact of charged particles with the gases of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Especially spectacular
auroras are associated with geomagnetic storms, which are caused by disturbances in the solar wind.
In addition to triggering intense auroral activity, geomagnetic storms can damage spacecraft, disrupt
communications, and lead to power blackouts. It is thus important to understand such storms and be
able to predict them.

IMAGE will provide the first opportunity to image magnetospheric regions on a global scale. IMAGE will
use three different experimental techniques to carry out its mission: radio sounding, ultraviolet imaging,
and neutral atom imaging. A radio sounder will probe the boundaries of the
magnetosphere and the plasmasphere (a dense region of cold ionospheric plasma surrounding the
Earth in the inner magnetosphere), while ultraviolet imagers study the aurora and the structure of the
plasmasphere. Global images of magnetospheric ion populations from a suite of three neutral atom
imagers will yield information about magnetospheric plasma sources and about the behavior of the
inner magnetosphere under both quiet and magnetic storm conditions. The neutral atom imagers
detect neutral atoms created from magnetospheric ions through a process known as charge
exchange. IMAGE will be the first space science mission to employ this technique extensively over a wide
range of particle energies.

Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is a leading supplier of satellites and space
to military, civil government and commercial communications organizations around the world. These
spacecraft and systems have enhanced military and commercial
communications; provided new and timely remote-sensing information; and furnished new data for
thousands of scientists studying our planet and the universe.

For more information about Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, see our Web site at:
http://lmms.external.lmco.com/

For more information about the IMAGE mission and its instruments, go to: http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov

[NOTE: Images supporting this release are available at
http://lmms.external.lmco.com/photos/civil_space/image/image.html]

SpaceRef staff editor.