Thursday, September 27, 2012

Station-Keeping Maneuver Successful!

Last night at 2250 UTC (6:50 pm ET) SDO performed another station keeping maneuver. These short firings of the thrusters keep SDO within the longitude box that defines its inclined geosynchronous orbit. The timing of the maneuver is chosen to affect as little of the science data feed as possible. This means it is often near dusk or dawn so that the velocity of SDO very nearly in the direction of the thrusters. We off-pointed only 1" (less than the size of the Sun) for this maneuver.
We are nearing the end of the Fall 2012 eclipse season on September 29. A few more partial eclipses and we will be seeing the Sun 24/7 until the Spring 2013 eclipse season!
As with any geosynchronous satellite, our ground station experiences radio interference (RFI) near the equinox when the spacecraft appears to pass close to the Sun in the sky. This is because the Sun is a source of radio noise that can overwhelm the signal we are listening to. This years RFI season has passed without loss of any data.