Berkeley -- NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and UC Berkeley's Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics have forged an innovative partnership that for the first time would transfer day-to-day operations of one of NASA's satellites to a university.
NASA/Goddard and UC Berkeley signed a cooperative agreement Aug. 21 to transfer responsibility for the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) observatory's flight operations from Goddard to the Center for EUV Astrophysics (CEA). Goddard has been working with CEA for the past year to enable the transfer, which is expected to be complete in early 1997.
The partnership would continue to foster space science -- the principal mission of the satellite since its launch in 1992 -- but also emphasize aerospace training, educational outreach and technology innovation.
This agreement builds on the partnership established by Goddard and UC Berkeley and marks the first time that NASA has used an innovative non-contract vehicle to implement mission flight operations. Goddard has conducted EUVE mission flight operations since the satellite's launch in conjunction with the former Loral Corporation -- now Lockheed Martin.
"I want to congratulate the UCB and Goddard teams for their outstanding efforts in a partnership to forge an innovative cooperative agreement and begin the implementation of the EUVE extended mission operations in the UCB university environment," said Joe Rothenberg, director of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "This marks the first time existing mission operations have been transferred from GSFC to a university.
"We look forward to the use of innovative approaches to operations which hold the promise of reduced costs and educational outreach in the extended use of the very successful EUVE mission. This GSFC/UCB partnership begins a new era of mission operations which builds on the strengths of both institutions and will provide mutual benefits based on this broadened and participative use of the nation's existing space science assets."
The Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer has already completed its primary mission, and is in "extended" operation collecting scientific data in one of the last "windows" on space, the extreme ultraviolet. This shift of responsibility for flight operations to CEA will enable NASA to refocus the EUVE mission from purely scientific research to one that will take greater advantage of UC Berkeley's rich research and educational environment to foster greater space science and space technology engineering training and educational outreach.
To date, more than 450 UC Berkeley undergraduates have engaged in project-based learning experiences at CEA, working on various scientific and technical aspects of the EUVE satellite mission. The CEA undergraduate program emphasizes recruitment of students with diverse backgrounds and interests. The shift of spacecraft operations to UC Berkeley will provide engineering, computer science and physics undergraduates with increased opportunities for applying their course work to the exciting fields of spacecraft operations and space astrophysics.
This agreement will also mean the continuation of experimental operations technologies in an effort to reduce operation costs. Through automation UC Berkeley already has been able to reduce manned monitoring of the science instruments to fewer than 24 hours a day.
Currently, all payload monitoring is performed by an intelligent, ground-based, software monitoring system with staff intervention needed only periodically. These technology innovations began under the EUVE Project's Flight Testbed for Innovative Mission Operations Program in cooperation with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Ames Research Center, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
It is hoped that future space missions will be able to apply the results of these experiments to reduce the cost of spacecraft operations.
The Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics, directed by research astonomer Roger Malina, is home to the scientists and staff who designed and built EUVE's scientific payload, which includes spectrometers, three scanning telescopes and associated electronics packages. CEA has had responsibility for operation of the science payload and for support of the NASA EUVE Guest Observer Program, which assists scientists from around the world in their use of the EUVE observatory.
Goddard has a distinguished history in the American Space Program. Founded in 1959, it was NASA's first space flight center and is NASA's primary Earth and space science research center. Key components of Goddard's mission are: original scientific investigations, development and operation of space missions, and the advancement of essential technologies. EUVE is one of those missions whose spacecraft was designed, built, operated, and managed by Goddard and its contractors.