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Ames' Involvement in the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS)
June 28, 2013

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About IRIS
NASA's next scientific satellite, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) will provide the most detailed look ever at the sun's lower atmosphere or interface region.

IRIS launched at 7:27 p.m. PDT, Thursday, June 27, 2013, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. On July 17, 2013 at 11:14 pm PDT the IRIS Lockheed Martin instrument team successfully opened the telescope door.

To learn more about IRIS, visit the general mission website: http://www.nasa.gov/iris

Ames is contributing to this exciting mission in a variety of ways. If you are media and would like to interview IRIS team members from NASA Ames, please contact Public Affairs Officer Rachel Hoover.

Ames Role: Mission Operations
Once IRIS launches, a team at NASA Ames will control the spacecraft on a daily basis from the Mission Operations Center, which serves as an example of a small, low-cost flight operations center for NASA. Ground data system engineers at Ames also support IRIS by helping to design, develop and integrate the software tools that enable flight controller tasks. To learn more about IRIS flight controller and ground data systems engineer, Robert Carvalho, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/iris/news/iris-controller-q-and-a.html

Operations Video Resources:
This video clip shows a few team members at the IRIS Mission Operations Center (MOC) preparing for a day of activities. The IRIS MOC, part of the NASA Ames Multi-Mission Operations Center (MMOC), serves as an example of a small, low cost operations shared facility for NASA.
Credit: NASA Ames

Duration: 6.4 seconds
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This animation shows the initial orbit ground track of the IRIS observatory once it is launched off the western coast of the United States. Communications with the TDRSS allow immediate communications with the Observatory. Within 15-20 minutes, IRIS passes over the McMurdo Ground Station in Antarctica. Approximately one hour after launch IRIS passes over the north pole, Svalbard Ground Station, then shortly afterward communicates with the Alaska Satellite Facility. On the fifth orbit Wallops Ground Station comes into view.
Credit: NASA/IRIS
Duration: 28.6 seconds
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This animation shows the ground stations and primary facilities used to support the IRIS mission. IRIS collaborates with the Norwegian Space Centre as they provide a science data path for the mission. The NEN or Near Earth Network located at Goddard Space Flight Center provides the central hub for ground station support. Data makes its way to the Mission Operations Center at NASA Ames as science data and images are eventually stored at Stanford. The solar data is then used in multiple ways to benefit society and space exploration.
Credit: NASA/IRIS 

Duration: 41.0 seconds
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This animation provides a look at the tasks the team on the ground perform daily as they prepare for and upload a command set once per weekday. During nominal operations, science and observatory health data are captured daily in a “lights-out” mode. Within six hours, science data is processed and stored at the Science Data Processing facility at Stanford University. A website provides a portal for the public science community to access the data.
Credit: NASA Ames/IRIS 

Duration: 57.5 seconds
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This animation shows the timeline of activities for the IRIS mission. Following launch, during the initial orbits, the spacecraft “detumbles”, opens the solar arrays, acquires the sun and communicates with the TDRSS and ground stations. For the first thirty days, the instrument and spacecraft are carefully checked and the telescope door is opened on day 21. The science campaign officially begins on day 60 as IRIS begins its exploration of the sun. Nominal daily operations continue for an exciting two year solar mission. After two years, if the observatory is healthy and productive, NASA then has the option to extend science operations.
Credit: NASA Ames/IRIS
Duration: 27.5 seconds
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Ames Role: Computer Modelling
IRIS' unique capabilities will be coupled with state of the art 3-D numerical modeling on supercomputers, such as Pleiades, housed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. Recent improvements in the power of supercomputers, such as Pleiades, to analyze large amounts of data will enable IRIS to provide better information about the region than ever before. For more information, visit: http://www.nas.nasa.gov

Artist concept of IRIS in space. Click for larger version.
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Page Last Updated: September 27th, 2013
Page Editor: Jerry Colen