Operations teams ready for SMOS

Satellite Operations and Control Centre - CNES
5 October 2009

While the SMOS and Proba-2 launch campaigns are progressing well in Plesetsk, Russia, operations teams in France and Spain have also been getting ready for launch on 2 November.

Over the last couple of weeks, the operations teams have taken part in the final dress rehearsal for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) of the mission. This simulation campaign complements two earlier dry-runs that were carried out in January and March and which simulated normal operating conditions.

This dress rehearsal, however, introduced a number of ‘failures’ into the scenario. This helped the teams detect anomalies in the telemetry data and assess how critical a situation may be, and decide the best way of recovering the system in order to resume normal operations.

Solar array deployment

LEOP is the critical first steps in a satellite’s life, beginning when the satellite separates from the launcher’s upper-most stage. During LEOP, the operations teams constantly monitor and verify the various subsystems on board the satellite – including the deployment of antennas and solar arrays.

During the dress rehearsal, which covered the first week of ‘round the clock’ LEOP operations, a number of different failures were simulated for elements of the SMOS system, including the Proteus platform, the MIRAS payload, ground segment components and the data servers.

CNES and ESA personnel in the Main Control Room
CNES and ESA personnel in the Main Control Room

All the simulated failures – as well any induced cascade effects – were spotted by the teams, isolated and recovered, demonstrating the high vigilance, reactivity and professionalism of all SMOS operations teams members.

As with the real SMOS LEOP, the dress rehearsal included the SMOS operations teams at the mission’s two main operations centres in France and Spain. At the Satellite Operations and Control Centre, at the French space agency CNES in Toulouse, France, the team includes the CNES SMOS Project and Proteus Operations Teams, the Thales Alenia Space SMOS Project Team and the ESA-ESTEC SMOS Project Team. At the SMOS Mission Operations and Data Processing Centre at ESA-ESAC in Villafranca, Spain, the team includes the ESA-ESAC SMOS Operations Team supported by INDRA/INSA operators, the EADS-CASA Espacio SMOS Project Team and representatives from the ESA-ESTEC SMOS Project Team.

ESA console in the SMOS Main Control Room
ESA console in the SMOS Main Control Room

The dress rehearsal was carried out as operations would be in ‘real life’ and was completed within nine working days. The performance of all the SMOS operations teams was outstanding. ESA’s Mission and Systems Manager for the SMOS mission, Hubert Barré, summarised the rehearsal, “Besides the necessary technical validation of the SMOS system components, operational procedures and facilities, the LEOP simulation campaigns essentially allowed us to develop and build a complementary, focussed and motivated SMOS operations team, which is the fundamental asset for a successful SMOS mission in orbit.”

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