Timeline of Aqua on-orbit progress

  May 4, 2002   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 29, 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 begin 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 reaches 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 rolls away from the Earth in order to allow for a calibration to the MODIS instrument. The maneuver is complete by 21:29:10 GMT, at which time the spacecraft resumes an Earth-pointing attitude.
  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.