IMAGE Blasts Off
"The skies cleared, then our hearts lifted with the IMAGE spacecraft; on time, on budget, on the start of a new era in space physics at the Earth," said onlooker Dennis Gallagher, a plasma physicist from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, who attended the launch along with other members of the IMAGE science team.
Right: Dennis Gallagher (NASA/MSFC) snapped this picture of IMAGE soaring into space aboard a Delta rocket on March 25, 2000.
"The spacecraft appears to be healthy with all systems performing nominally," said IMAGE project manager Frank Volpe at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "We are looking forward to a great science mission."
After the 40 day setup period, IMAGE will begin using its trio of neutral atom imagers, a far-ultraviolet imaging system, an extreme ultraviolet imager and a radio plasma imager to make movies of the magnetosphere. This unique approach will allow scientists to view, for the first time, the ‘big picture’ rather than capturing limited, local measurements at far-flung points in space.
Right: An artist's concept of IMAGE in orbit. Click for IMAGE animations, courtesy of Goddard Space Flight Center.
IMAGE is NASA’s first Medium-class Explorer (MIDEX) mission under the Agency’s Explorer Program. The principal institution for IMAGE is the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, which has overall responsibility for IMAGE science, instrumentation, spacecraft operations and data analysis during its two-year science mission. SwRI's Jim Burch is the IMAGE Principle Investigator. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Division in Sunnyvale, Calif. built and tested the 1,089-pound (494-kilogram) spacecraft under a contract with SwRI.Web Links
IMAGE home page - from NASA/GSFC.
IMAGE home page - from the Southwest Research Institute.