archiv~1.txt: SETI Sad WIRE news (fwd)

SETI Sad WIRE news (fwd)

Larry Klaes ( )
Fri, 05 Mar 1999 14:06:09 -0500

>X-Sender: waw@clarke
>Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 12:20:27 CST6CDT,3,-1,0,7200,10,-1,0,10800,3600
>X-OldDate: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 10:01:37 -0800 (PST)
>Sender: carlsagan-owner <>
>Reply-To: "Carl Sagan List" <>
>From: Bill Wheaton <>
>To: "Arthur C. Clarke Internet Fan Club" <>
>Subject: Sagan: sad WIRE news (fwd)
>We have had a disaster here. Not the first or the last in this business,
>but that never makes the pain any less. I am not directly involved in
>WIRE myself, but many friends I see every day are. Many have devoted
>years of their lives to this mission, and they all deserved much better.
>Bill Wheaton
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 04:02:00 -0800 (PST)
>From: Carol Lonsdale <>
>Dear friends and colleagues -
>We're all rather in shock right now. We've lost the mission
>While the s/c was still tumbling early after orbit insertion, the telescope
>cover apparently came off; it wasn't supposed to till day 3. Our best
>guess at present is that somehow it fired when the secondary cryo vent
>was opened. The expected coning (spinning describing a cone) got worse and
>failed to respond to maneouvers designed to slow it. We hypothesize now that
>the cover was off so the coming allowed some earthlight at least (maybe
>sunlight too) into the barrel of the 'scope. This warmed the cryogens at
>a high rate (we saw evidence in some of the temperature readings), which
>in turn outgassed through the vents and started spinning the s/c up. At
>point it is spinning at over 15 rpm and there's no hope of slowing it
>because that's beyond the power of the magnetic reaction wheels. Thus
>the batteries will slowly die (the solar arrays are not pointing to the
>sun) sometime tomorrow, and the cryogens will boil off within another day
>or two.
>A last ditch attempt to save things was tried by deliberately sending
>a cover off command, hoping the cover was in fact still on and the ejection
>would counteract the spin. We saw no change in the temperatures, confirming
>our sad theory. The focal plans have been turned on temporarily and
>we now have images that confirm that they are alive but are looking out.
>The earth limb is seen to go by. Data to collect information on radiation
>behavior of the arrays will be salvaged for a short while.
>Please join with me in commiserating with the superb WIRE team, here at
>IPAC, also at JPL, SDL and GSFC. Here at the SOC they've been a
>terrific team to work with, down through the long years of preparation
>to this awful night. We're so sorry to greet you with this dreadful news
>after such a happy celebration last night. Our thanks to all of you
>for your support of us through thick and thin. We couldn't have done it
>without you.
>Wm. A. Wheaton
>Infrared Processing & Analysis Center
>California Institute of Technology
>M/S 100-22
>770 So. Wilson Ave.
>Pasadena CA 91125
>626/397-7104 fax 626/397-9600
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