CloudSat Anomaly Recovery and Operational Lessons Learned
CALIFORNIA INST OF TECH PASADENA JET PROPULSION LAB
Pagination or Media Count:
In April 2011, NASAs pioneering cloud profiling radar satellite, CloudSat, experienced a battery anomaly that placed it into emergency mode and rendered it operations incapable. All initial attempts to recover the spacecraft failed as the resultant power limitations could not support even the lowest power mode. Originally part of a six-satellite constellation known as the A-Train, CloudSat was unable to stay within its assigned control box, posing a threat to other A-Train satellites. CloudSat needed to exit the constellation, but with the tenuous power profile, conducting maneuvers was very risky. The team was able to execute a complex sequence of operations which recovered control, conducted an orbit lower maneuver, and returned the satellite to safe mode, within one 65 minute sunlit period. During the course of the anomaly recovery, the team developed several bold, innovative operational strategies. Details of the investigation into the root-cause and the multiple approaches to revive CloudSat are examined. Satellite communication and commanding during the anomaly are presented. A radical new system of Daylight Only Operations DO-OP was developed, which cycles the payload and subsystem components off in tune with earth eclipse entry and exit in order to maintain positive power and thermal profiles. The scientific methodology and operational results behind the graduated testing and ramp-up to DO-OP are analyzed. In November 2011, the CloudSat team successfully restored the vehicle to consistent operational collection of cloud radar data during sunlit portions of the orbit. Lessons learned throughout the six-month return-to-operations recovery effort are discussed and offered for application to other RD satellites, in the context of on-orbit anomaly resolution efforts.
- Unmanned Spacecraft