Status update: GPM completes spacecraft alignments

January 9, 2014
Engineers perform precision tests on the completed GPM spacecraft prior to launch - scheduled for Feb. 27. Credit: NASA/JAXA

After a holiday break, final tests for the GPM Core Observatory resumed on Dec. 30, 2013, with alignment measurements. The spacecraft's instruments and components, such as star trackers and thrusters, are attached to the main body in specific configurations. Spacecraft alignment measurement is analogous to alignment for the wheels of a car. The Core Observatory measurements ensure that no parts have shifted during its transportation from the United States to Japan, so they will work as expected.

For the test, small cubes are placed at each part that needs checking and an instrument called a theodolite, similar to a surveyor's instrument, makes exact . Measurements are taken in both the horizontal and vertical orientations of the spacecraft, in order to "see" each cube, and were completed as expected with no problems.

In addition, the GPM team has made up the time lost due to weather delays during the satellite shipment in November. They are currently on schedule for the remainder of testing, which continues with a check of the propulsion system. The GPM Core Observatory is scheduled for launch from JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center between 1:07 p.m. and 3:07 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 27 (3:07 a.m. to 5:07 a.m. Japan Standard Time on Friday, Feb. 28).

Explore further: NASA GPM satellite's dual-frequency precipitation radar arrives at Goddard

Related Stories

Handover of Japan-built radar to NASA

April 4, 2012

On March 30, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) officially handed off a new satellite instrument to NASA at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) was designed ...

NASA's GPM observatory completes first dry run

October 18, 2012

(—NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory satellite went through its first complete comprehensive performance test (CPT), beginning on Oct. 4, 2012 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in ...

Ready, set, space: NASA's GPM satellite begins journey

November 25, 2013

For the past three years, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory has gone from components and assembly drawings to a fully functioning satellite at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. ...

Recommended for you

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...

Hubble captures a galactic waltz

November 26, 2015

This curious galaxy—only known by the seemingly random jumble of letters and numbers 2MASX J16270254+4328340—has been captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope dancing the crazed dance of a galactic merger. The ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.