February 24, 2003 - Update
Starting with a tracking pass from Svalbard (Norway) at 11:30 CST on Thursday February 20, the first steps in activating laser #1 on ICESat were taken. In the Svalbard pass starting at 16:18 CST, when ICESat was over Franz Josef Land in the arctic, the laser was commanded in real time to commence firing. Confirmation that the laser was firing was confirmed during the pass, but it was about 2 hours later before confirmation was obtained that the instrumentation was receiving return signals. Since the laser start up, the laser has been firing continuously at 40 times per second and data is being acquired by all systems, except portions of the atmospheric channel. The atmospheric channel will be activated later, as planned.

February 5, 2003 - Update
ICESat systems are operating well. The JPL GPS receiver is now tracking a maximum of 8 satellites and the performance is very good. The GLAS Main Electronics Unit was powered on Feb 1 and operation has been as expected. Various components of GLAS are being powered on, including the instrument star tracker on Feb 6. Laser #1 is scheduled to be powered on in the latter part of February.

Image of PrelaunchRollback of tower showing Boeing Delta-II on the launch stand. ICESat was mounted at the top of the rocket, inside the fairing. (CSR photo) Image of PrelaunchLaunch of Delta-II with ICESat, shortly after release. (NASA photo)

January 20, 2003 - Update
ICESat was placed very precisely into the desired orbit by the Delta-II launch vehicle. One of the GPS BlackJack receivers was powered on January 17 and first data were recorded about 15:30 UTC. The receiver has performed as expected. Some fine tuning of the spacecraft attitude control system has taken place since launch. Two thrusters were successfully fired on January 20 19:00 UTC. A series of such maneuvers will take place in the coming days to place the spacecraft into the required 8 day repeat orbit to support calibration/validation. The spacecraft is under the control of Ball Aerospace and the University of Colorado LASP.