Dwayne C. Brown Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

March 14, 1994 (Phone: 202/358-0547) Michael Finneran Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. (Phone: 301/286-5565) RELEASE: 94-42 NASA OPENS GROUND STATION FOR COMPTON GAMMA-RAY OBSERVATORY NASA has opened a new, remote ground station in Tidbinbilla, Australia, called the GRO Remote Terminal System, to receive scientific data from the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (GRO) via a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) that was moved into position over the Indian Ocean. The decision to build the ground station and devote a TDRS to the Compton GRO came after the observatory's tape recorders failed, restricting transmission of scientific data to real time only. Since Compton was compatible with TDRS, this ground station option was feasible. An on-orbit repair of Compton GRO was an alternative, but would have been much more costly. "While the new ground station is devoted to Compton at this time, it has the potential for use by other Earth-orbital spacecraft. The TDRS system was designed to operate with all the TDRS spacecraft in view of a single ground station. As a result, coverage could not be provided in a small region on Earth -- the so-called Zone of Exclusion over the Indian Ocean. "With activation of this ground facility, the TDRS system can, for the first time, provide global coverage," said Charles Force, Associate Administrator, Office of Space Communications, NASA

Headquarters, Washington, D.C. Work on the station was completed in a relatively short time and within its $12 million budget. Work began in September 1992 to implement a remotely controlled terminal at an existing NASA site and was a cooperative effort between the Australian Space Office and NASA - more -2"We're very pleased that this project came in on budget and on time and that we are able to collect additional significant data from Compton in a cost-effective manner," said Frank Stocklin, Head, Radio and Frequency Interface and Mission Analysis Section, Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, Md. With GRO tape recorders not working, the observatory had been able to relay only slightly more than half of the science data it collected, because it could not point at a TDRS at all times. While coverage had been about 65 percent of each orbit, scientists could not collect that percentage of data because Compton's instruments had to be turned off during the part of the orbit when the spacecraft passed through the background radiation caused by the South Atlantic Anomaly. "That had represented a significant obstacle to the scientific teams, even though we have been able to collect more science than expected," said Goddard's Dr. Neil Gehrels, Compton Project Scientist. "Now with the ground station and the TDRS, we're back where we want to be." With a TDRS devoted to Compton, scientists will be able to collect about 30 percent more science. In addition, engineers will be able to keep better tabs on the health of the $500-million observatory, launched from the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-37) on April 5, 1991. "It's difficult to place a dollar value on the additional science data obtained in this effort," Stocklin said, "but the restoration of data recovery capability is similar to that done for the Hubble Space Telescope and marks the second successful

recovery of a major NASA observatory." TDRSs receive data from Earth-orbiting satellites and re-transmits the data to a ground terminal in White Sands, N.M. Data from the Compton will be relayed from TDRS-1 to Tidbinbilla to an Intelsat satellite to a West Coast location and then routed to White Sands. Data then will be distributed to scientists around the world. Control of TDRS-1 and this highly automated ground terminal remains at White Sands, N.M., marking the first time NASA is controlling an out-of-view TDRS from that location. Launched in 1983, TDRS-1 was the first satellite in the TDRS system and was operating beyond the end of its design life of 8 years when it was moved over the Indian Ocean. TDRS-1 had been located at 171 degrees west longitude over the Pacific. It is now at 85 degrees east longitude, in view of the Tidbinbilla ground station. "In its current use, TDRS-1's useful life may be extended to the end of the decade and perhaps beyond," Stocklin said. - end -