The Aqua spacecraft was successfully launched on board a Delta II rocket at 2:55 a.m. PDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. (Read the Press Release.) As scheduled, the Aqua spacecraft successfully separated from the Delta rocket over Africa on its first orbit in the early morning of May 4, and the solar array unfurled over Europe a few minutes later. The AMSR-E antenna was then deployed, followed several hours later by deployment of the two CERES instruments and the X-band antenna.
May 12, 2002
AMSU begins sending science data
May 14, 2002
HSB begins sending science data.
May 15-23, 2002
AMSR-E rotation rate is spun-up from 4 rpm to its operational value of 40 rpm.
May 23, 2002
The MODIS instrument begins outgassing.
May 24, 2002
AMSR-E begins sending science data. Some anomalies are seen.
May 25, 2002
The AIRS scanner is turned on (although the AIRS Earth shield is still stowed).
May 20, 2002
The AIRS Earth shield is deployed.
Late May / Early June, 2002
The two CERES instruments are being checked out through all modes of operation prior to opening the contamination covers in late June.
June 1, 2002
An adjustment is made to the automatic gain control for AMSR-E, after which high quality data begins to flow from the instrument.
June 12, 2002
AIRS is now in its standard science data-collection mode and is doing well.
June 17, 2002
Following the final ascent burn, Aqua reached its final, operational altitude of 705 km.
June 18, 2002
The CERES covers are opened, and both CERES instruments are now collecting data.
June 24, 2002
First light images from AMSR-E are released! Global sea surface temperature and brightness temperature images can be found here. MODIS begins sending science data, completing the complement of Aqua's six science instruments.
July 12, 2002
Aqua direct broadcast begins.
July 19, 2002
Beginning at 21:00:24 GMT DOY 200 (July 19, 2002), the Aqua spacecraft will roll away from the earth in order to allow for a calibration to the MODIS instrument. The maneuver will be complete by 21:29:10 GMT, at which time the spacecraft will resume an earth-pointing attitude. During the maneuver it is possible that the X-band direct broadcast will be interrupted (as the X-band antenna is no longer directed toward the earth).
September 1, 2002
The 120-day checkout period for Aqua ends. The Aqua responsibilities transfer from the Aqua Project at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and TRW to the Earth Science Mission Operations (ESMO) program, located at GSFC.