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This is an Archive of a Live Event!

A Boeing Delta II rocket blasted into the sky above the United States' Western Range. Its payload: the IMAGE spacecraft, a half-ton Earth-orbiting satellite carrying some of the most sophisticated imaging instruments ever to be flown in the near-Earth space environment. After a flight of some 52 minutes, at speeds reaching almost 22,000 mph, IMAGE will be inserted into an elliptical orbit about the Earth's poles and will begin its two-year mission. The mission objective: to obtain the first global images of the major plasma regions and boundaries in the Earth's inner magnetosphere and to study the dynamic response of these plasma populations to variations in the flow of charged particles from the Sun.

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The IMAGE observatory is a spin-stabilized spacecraft that measures 2.25 meters (7.4 feet) in diameter and 1.52 meters (4.99 feet) in height and weighs 494 kg (1087 pounds) (including instruments). Viewed from either end, it has the form of a regular octagon. Arrays of high-efficiency, dual-junction gallium-arsenide solar cells attached to the spacecraft's eight side and two end panels provide power to the scientific instruments and subsystems, which together will require an orbit-averaged power of 250 Watts. (When the spacecraft is in eclipse, power is supplied by a Super Nickel-Cadmium battery.)

IMAGE will fly in an elliptical polar orbit with an apogee altitude of 7 Earth radii (44,647 km/27,681 mi). The location of the apogee will change during the course of the two-year mission, both in latitude and, because of the Earth's revolution about the Sun, in local time. At the beginning of the mission, apogee will be at approximately 40 degrees north latitude and at dusk local time. As the Earth moves around the Sun, the plane of the orbit will shift relative to the Earth-Sun line (by 30 degrees of longitude each month).


Sten Odenwald

Stephen Fuselier

Annie DiMarco

Bodo Reinish

Jim Green

Bill Taylor

Dennis Gallagher

Pat Reiff

Related URLs for more information on this event:
Visit the Image website for more information on this amazing project.
K-12 Educators, visit the Poetry website for educational information and classroom activities.
And the Ask a Scientist website.
Watch a slide showof the mission particulars.

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