COSMIC-2 Darwin Ground Station Coming Together

Equipment passes inspection, ships to Australia

COSMIC-2 is the follow-on mission to the highly successful COSMIC satellites, with a continued partnership between the U.S. and Taiwan. Two constellations, each with six satellites, are planned for launch in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

The first constellation will be in an equatorial orbit, which will provide increased observations of key weather data over the tropics. The second constellation will be in a polar orbit, similar to that of the original COSMIC constellation, and will provide data with global coverage.

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Cynthia Lee Koelewyn (NASA Jet Propulsion Lab) and Kerry Slaven (UCAR Logistics Manager) check on COSMIC-2 equipment being prepared for shipment from California to Taiwan.  (Courtesy photo.)

Additional ground stations providing telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) will be needed for the COSMIC-2 mission. UCAR's COSMIC Program has been contracted by NOAA to oversee the procurement and installation of several stations, the first to be installed in Darwin, Australia.

In mid-August, the equipment for Darwin passed its Factory Acceptance Test.  Then the equipment was flown from Dallas to Singapore, where it was loaded onto a cargo ship headed to Australia. UCAR Logistics Manager Kerry Slaven is overseeing the equipment’s journey. Slaven is no stranger to the process, having logged many miles moving instruments from one place to another.

“I've made a lot of trips for COSMIC-2. Twice, I hand carried millions of dollars worth of equipment to Surrey Satellite in England,” said Slaven. “Numerous times, I've been to Space Micro in San Diego, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, and Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. Everything we ship for COSMIC-2 has to pass rigorous tests before it can leave,”

The remainder of the equipment for the Darwin station will ship directly from France to Australia before October, and is expected to be installed in only a matter of days.

“I think this is the quickest turnaround I’ve ever seen for a satellite tracking station installation – from signing contracts to final testing,” said Dave Ector, COSMIC-2 Program Manager. “These TT&C stations will help scientists control the satellites in orbit to ensure optimal performance and will provide the means to gather data from the satellites.”

COSMIC-2 is a crucial element in our national strategy to enhance weather prediction. It will improve global weather analyses, particularly over oceans and polar regions; advance global and regional weather prediction models; aid in the prediction of space weather; and monitor climate change and variability with unprecedented accuracy and precision.

Special thanks to Rebecca Metts, Kerry Slaven, Dave Ector, and Heather Davis for their contributions to this story.

(left to right) Dave Ector (UCAR COSMIC-2 Program Manager), Kendra Cook (NOAA), Bill Schreiner (UCAR COSMIC/ CDAAC Manager) and Pete Wilczynski (NOAA), at the Darwin, Australia ground station site. (Courtesy photo.)

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Rebecca Swisher, Internal Communications Specialist