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IMAGE Facts


Launch date: March 25, 2000

Launch time: 3:35 EST (12:35 PST) with an eight-minute launch window

Launch site: Western Range at Vandenberg AFB, California

Launch vehicle: Boeing Delta II 7326

Spacecraft separation: Launch + 56 minutes

Spacecraft dimensions: 7.4 feet in diameter, 4.9 feet in height

Weight: 1,089 pounds

Data rate: 44 kilobits per second (5.5 kBaud) real-time

Minimum orbit lifetime: Two years

Orbit: After about 50 minutes in flight, the spacecraft will be inserted into an elliptical polar orbit. The satellite's 14.5-hour polar orbit has a 90-degree inclination with an estimated 621-mile perigee (the point closest to Earth) and an estimated 28,503-mile apogee (the point farthest from Earth).

Power: Arrays of high-efficiency, dual-junction, gallium-arsenide solar cells attached to the spacecraft's eight sides and two end panels will provide 286 watts to the scientific instruments and subsystems. During eclipses, power to the spacecraft will be supplied by a nickel-cadmium battery.

First acquisition of signal: Expected approximately 78 minutes after launch. A 26-meter antenna in Madrid, Spain, will receive the first signal.

Communications: Three antennas will be used for S-band communication with ground stations. Data downlink will occur once during each 14.5-hour orbit. Uplink of commands will occur once a week.

Antennas: The six antennas will be used primarily by the radio plasma imager instrument aboard IMAGE. Two antennas extend 66 feet tip-to-tip parallel to the spin axis. Upon deployment, the four opposing beryllium-copper antennas (the longest on the spacecraft) will extend 1,640 feet tip-to-tip, making IMAGE 180 feet longer than the height of the Empire State Building. These antennas extend in four directions perpendicular to the spin axis. They will be reeled-out in stages and will have small weights attached to their tips so that centrifugal force can propel them straight out from the axis of the spacecraft at exactly the plane of the spacecraft's spinning. They will be reeled out at less than 6 inches per second and their lengths cannot differ by more than about 3 feet at any time or they will unbalance the spacecraft. This unreeling process will take about 33 days.

Science instruments: Low-energy neutral atom (LENA) imager built by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, medium-energy neutral atom (MENA) imager built by Southwest Research Institute, high-energy neutral atom (HENA) imager built by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, far ultraviolet (FUV) imager built by the University of California at Berkeley, extreme ultraviolet (EUV) imager built by the University of Arizona, and radio plasma imager (RPI) built by the University of Massachusetts at Lowell

Mission Oversight: Dr. James L. Burch, Vice President of the Instrumentation and Space Research Division at Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, has overall responsibility for the science, instrumentation, spacecraft, and data analysis phases. William C. Gibson, Assistant Vice President of the Instrumentation and Space Research Division at Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, serves as project manager.

Education and public outreach: IMAGE was the first space science mission to formally include an education and public outreach program in its proposal to NASA. Since 1996, the Public Outreach, Education, Teaching, and Reaching Youth (POETRY) program has provided educational resources to serve educators and the community. Visit POETRY at image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry.

Cost: Estimated at $82 million, including spacecraft, instruments, and launch vehicle. Launch services were procured by NASA from Boeing Space Systems at a cost of about $50 million. Ground operations, including science operations, staffing, and other expenses, during the two-year data analysis phase are estimated at $21.5 million.

Official IMAGE web site: pluto.space.swri.edu/IMAGE/

For more information, contact:

Maria I. Stothoff
Communications Department
Southwest Research Institute
6220 Culebra Road
San Antonio, Texas 78238-5166
Phone (210) 522-3305
Fax (210) 522-3547
E-mail mstothoff@swri.org