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AeroAstro-built STPSat-1 Spacecraft Positions For Shuttle Plume

File image of the STPSat-1 spacecraft in orbit.
by Staff Writers
Ashburn (SPX) Aug 09, 2007
AeroAstro today announced that STPSat-1 payload, SHIMMER, has successfully gathered data from the June 8th launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis. Twenty-four hours before the launch, operators at the Space Development and Test Wing, Kirtland AFB, NM rolled the spacecraft 0.66 degrees by ground command to point the payload to a higher altitude to observe the vapor plume put off by the STS-117 mission.

The Space Shuttle uses liquid oxygen and hydrogen to fuel its boosters. This results in over 400 metric tons of water being released into the atmosphere.

"By looking at the exhaust plume at 115 km altitude, we can analyze whether or not this matter is transferred toward the poles," said Chris Englert, Principal Investigator for SHIMMER.

"Further, this should give the SHIMMER experimenters insight into how water transport works in this section of the upper atmosphere, as there is little water naturally occurring in this region."

SHIMMER (Spatial Heterodyne Imager for Mesospheric Radicals), the primary experiment on STPSat-1, is a high-resolution ultraviolet spectrometer based on the new optical technique known as Spatial Heterodyne Spectroscopy (SHS).

The STPSat-1 Spacecraft
STPSat-1 continues the Space Development and Test Wing's mission to provide access to space for DoD-sponsored experiments. The spacecraft's elegant design incorporated both proven technical design from previous missions and advanced technologies. The satellite construction was tailored for the highly constrained ESPA environment and included advances in electronics packaging, space materials and manufacturing techniques.

Technology Abstract
SHIMMER, the Spatial Heterodyne Imager for Mesospheric Radicals is the primary payload of STPSat-1, a small satellite launched in March 2007 with a minimum lifetime of one year.

SHIMMER will use Spatial Heterodyne Spectroscopy (SHS) to measure the limb brightness at 32 tangent altitudes with high spectral resolution (0.012nm) in a narrow bandpass around 308 nm. The solar resonance fluorescence of hydroxyl (OH) will be reduced from the limb profiles and inverted to provide OH concentration profiles for low to mid latitudes (up to 57 degrees).

Since OH is a good proxy for water vapor in the upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere, water vapor concentrations will also be available from the data.

We will review the basics of SHS, its differences and similarities to other spectroscopic techniques, and its suitability for the measurement of middle atmospheric OH in the UV. The specific design of SHIMMER on STPSat-1, which includes a monolithic SHS interferometer, will be presented.

We will give a brief overview of the primary science goals of the SHIMMER on STPSat-1 mission and discuss the projected scientific return in context of its latitudinal coverage, atmospheric lighting conditions, and planned operations.

In conclusion we will discuss the ability to make Polar Mesospheric Cloud observations with this instrument and how it can complement the NASA AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) mission, scheduled for launch in late 2006. SHIMMER is a joint effort between the Naval Research Laboratory and the DoD Space Test Program.

Related Links
PDF paper on STPSat-1 at Aeroastro
Shuttle at NASA
Watch NASA TV via Space.TV
Space Shuttle News at Space-Travel.Com

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NASA Launches Space Shuttle Endeavour For Station Teach-In
Washington (AFP) Aug 08, 2007
Space Shuttle Endeavour was blasted off early Wednesday evening sending the first teacher into space 21 years after the Challenger explosion tragically ended the dream of another pioneering teacher. Teacher-turned-astronaut Barbara Morgan, 55, has become the star of the second shuttle mission to the International Space Station this year. Weather conditions were perfect and all other countdown procedures went smoothly allowing an on time lift off at 6:36 pm (2236 GMT) Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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