Donald Savage Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1547


February 7, 1996

Jim Sahli Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (Phone: 301/286-0697) George Diller Kennedy Space Center, FL (Phone: 407/867-2468) Keith Takahashi McDonnell Douglas Public Relations, Huntington Beach, CA (Phone: 714/896-1302) RELEASE: 96-26 POLAR LAUNCH COMPLETES GLOBAL GEOSPACE SCIENCE CONSTELLATION NASA's Polar spacecraft, scheduled for a February launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), CA, is a key element of a constellation of satellites which promise to revolutionize understanding of the Sun's influence on Earth's space environment. "Polar will launch space physicists on a new voyage of discovery and exploration," said Dr. Robert Carovillano, Polar Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. "Polar is the main link in a very critical chain of laboratories in space which will study both the very inner and outer frontiers of the chain of processes which intimately connects the Sun with the Earth and the other planets. This launch marks the beginning of a new era in our understanding of the interactions of these tremendous forces." The final mission in NASA's Global Geospace Science (GGS) program, the Polar laboratory will be launched in an orbit which loops over the Earth's poles for a three-year mission to study the movement of energetic charged particles above the polar regions. It will give scientists new perspectives on how Earth's space environment is affected by continual bombardment from radiation and particles from the Sun, data which eventually could help scientists forecast

"space weather". The most well-known effects of these particles are the sometimes spectacular curtains of light known as the Northern and Southern Lights, or auroras. More serious effects are the damage the particles can cause when severe solar-driven storms damage spacecraft electronics and even disrupt communications and power networks on Earth -- systems on which society is becoming ever more dependent. "Polar will help us in a new area of research that scientists call 'space weather' where the objective is to make relevant observations of our solar-terrestrial system. Then, we will put that data into models that will predict where and when various types of space disturbances will occur," said Dr. Robert Hoffman, Polar Project Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. "Information from Polar about the radiation environment that satellites and spacecraft experience will enable the development of better radiationtolerant technology for space systems." The Polar laboratory will perform simultaneous, coordinated measurements of the key regions of Earth's geospace, or space environment, with WIND, which was launched November 1994 and is now measuring properties of the solar wind. A large array of ground-based scientific observatories and mission-related theoretical investigations also will be involved. NASA is collaborating with the European Space Agency and the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences in three additional solar-terrestrial missions, Geotail, SOHO and Cluster. These missions, together with GGS, make up the International Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) science initiative. The Polar spacecraft, carrying 11 instruments, is scheduled for launch on a Delta II rocket from the Western Space and Missile Center, at VAFB. The instruments, supplied by industry and university teams as well as by NASA, will study a vast range of phenomena from electromagnetic radiation to charged particles from very low to relativistic energies. Especially important on Polar are three high resolution imagers looking down on the Earth's polar region. The instruments will image at wavelengths from the visible to ultraviolet and into

the X-ray region. "The aim of ISTP is to understand the physical effects of solar activity on interplanetary space and the Earth's space environment. This will lead to the capability of predicting the responses of each part of the Sun-Earth system to solar activity," said Dr. Mario Acuna, ISTP Project Scientist at Goddard. Polar's orbit around the Earth will be inclined 86 degrees to the equator. The altitude of the furthest point from the Earth on the orbit -- the apogee -- will be eight Earth radii (32,000 miles), and the closest point -- the perigee -- will be 0.8 Earth radii (3,200 miles). Polar is a spin-stabilized cylinder-shaped spacecraft 7.9 feet in diameter and 6.9 feet high with many appendages for instrument sensors. The dry weight of the spacecraft is about 2,200 pounds with an additional 660 pounds of hydrazine propellant for orbit and attitude control. Several NASA facilities will play key roles in the collection and dissemination of Polar science data. NASA's Deep Space Network will be used to command the spacecraft and to collect Polar science data via radio link. At Goddard, raw data will be processed, organized and stored. The project's Central Data Handling Facility will produce "key parameter data" for rapidly surveying the much larger volume of raw data from the mission. Detailed analysis of the data will be performed by investigators at their own sites and the data will be shared through the NASA Science Internet connections throughout the United States, Japan and Europe. Spacecraft Pre-Launch Processing The Polar spacecraft arrived at Vandenberg aboard a C-5 military aircraft on Oct. 16, 1995. It was transported to NASA Hangar 836, NASA's spacecraft and launch vehicle checkout facility at Vandenberg, to begin prelaunch checkout activities. This work included propulsion system checks and electrical system testing, and a series of functional tests which included checkout of each of the spacecraft's instruments. On Nov. 10, Polar was transported from Hangar 836 located on South Vandenberg to NASA Hazardous Processing

Facility 1610 located on North Vandenberg near Space Launch Complex 2. There the spacecraft was fueled with its hydrazine control propellant on Nov. 14 - 15. Polar was transported to the launch pad on Jan. 23 and mated to the Delta II rocket. The nose fairing installation activities placing it around the spacecraft began on Jan. 29. Delta-233 Processing Delta-233, a Delta II launch vehicle manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, began its preparation at NASA's Space Launch Complex 2 with the erection of the first stage on Nov. 29, 1995. The second stage was hoisted atop the first stage on Dec. 1, and the solid rocket boosters were erected in sets of three on Dec. 5 - 7. The electrical qualification testing of Delta-233 was performed on Jan. 5-6. An electrical test to verify the inflight events which the vehicle normally performs was conducted on Jan. 17. The vehicle was partially loaded with liquid oxygen for a first stage leak check on Jan. 18. A Flight Program Verification was performed on Jan. 25, a test which verified the actual flight events and associated flight software to be used on the Delta-233/ Polar mission. Loading of the second stage with its complement of storable propellants, an activity which normally occurs before the countdown begins, was scheduled to occur two days before launch on Feb. 22. Loading of the first stage with liquid oxygen and RP-1, a highly refined kerosene, is performed in the terminal countdown sequence which begins approximately three hours before launch. Information about the Polar mission and the ISTP are available on the Internet at the following home page locations: Polar: ISTP:

Goddard manages the Polar project for NASA 's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. - end -

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