Greetings, I am Ernest Bowman-Cisneros, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Science Operations Center (SOC) manager. I have worn many hats during the lifetime of this project, but now that we have celebrated the second anniversary of the launch of LRO and nearly two years of operations, I can look back to the beginning of the LROC SOC.
In our continuing efforts to improve our website, we have visually enhanced our News System! Check out the new look for our new Featured Images and Announcements!
For our dedicated followers you will notice our News System has been subtly improved. We have updated the layout and styling so that it now closely matches the rest of the LROC website. The News System now features the standard LROC layout and LROC website colors. More importantly the News System dynamically utilizes our standard LROC navigation menu -- meaning you will maintain quick access to all of our resources even while you check out our newest featured image and read our latest announcements!
Hello. My name is Shane Thompson and I am a lunatic. I am the Operations Lead for the LROC Operations Team at ASU for the Science Operations Center (SOC). I am an ASU alumni from the geology department and have been involved with lunar research for the last two years and Mars research for the last nine.
Daily operations for LROC at the SOC are carried out by four of eight Ops Team members who handle commanding the instrument and processing the downlinked data. There are two sides to operations: uplink and downlink. The uplink side creates the sequence of image commands in time order and validates them for optimal imaging as well as error checking with other spacecraft operations, and then sends the commands to Goddard Space Flight Center for uplink to the spacecraft. The downlink side handles acquired data products (both image and telemetry data) that are received, validated, processed, catalogued, and prepared for release. As an Ops Team member, I cycle through each of the four positions (2 uplink, 2 downlink). I get the experience of targeting the Moon for two weeks, which amounts to about 2200 images. It's a great feeling identifying targets and then seeing the images on the screen a day or two later! The next two weeks I am on the downlink shifts where I manage the processing of products and troubleshoot any problematic images. Then the cycle repeats. The benefit of rotating positions is being involved in all of the instrument's operational aspects. I am gaining great experience with not only spacecraft and instrument operations, but also computer skills from hardware configurations to shell scripting to database queries.
LROC is a high volume data collector. About 300-350 NAC images and 200-250 WAC images are acquired every day! That amounts to about 40-45 gigabytes per day!! Managing the processing of all these observations depends heavily on automation via scripts and a dependable database. During the commissioning phase (which just ended on September 15), there were many places within our procedures that had to be fine tuned. Now that the primary phase of the mission is upon us, we are ready to handle the fire-hose of data!
Hi, my name is Prasun Mahanti and I am involved with temperature modeling for the LRO Narrow Angle Camera [NAC]. The NAC is a digital camera and uses semiconductor devices to take a picture similar to your own digital camera. As an example, when the NAC is looking at a mountain on the Moon, the image is recorded by a charge coupled device (CCD) instead of film. Semiconductors (here a CCD) are very temperature sensitive, so the noise characteristics of the returned image varies when the temperature goes up and down. Several of us in the LROC Science Operations Center therefore are tasked with forecasting the probable temperature of the NAC CCD a few days in advance. For a given temperature appropriate image acquisition commands can be sent to LRO for different positions around the Moon to insure the best-quality images.
My job is to build a thermal model using existing temperature records from the mission so far. The model is used to predict the future temperature of the NAC focal plane as the LRO takes images of the Moon. The fun part of this modeling is the uncertainty. We do not know for sure, but we try our best to mathematically model a physical phenomena and eventually, get closer to the truth. Knowing the imaging conditions makes it possible for the LRO NAC to take a much better image. So far we have always been very close in our estimates!