AWE Successfully Installed on Space Station, Sending Down Data

Editor’s Note: This post was updated to include a link to footage of AWE’s installation on the International Space Station.

On Saturday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. EST, installation of NASA’s Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) was completed on the International Space Station.

The video begins with the International Space Station soaring above Earth. As the Space Station turns, AWE, which is nestled on the bottom portion of the Space Station, comes into view.
From its unique vantage point on the International Space Station, NASA’s Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) will look directly down into Earth’s atmosphere.
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

By remotely controlling the Canadarm2 robotic arm, engineers first extracted AWE from SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft a couple days after it arrived at the station on Nov. 11. Then, on Saturday, using the Canadarm2 robotic arm again, engineers completed AWE’s installation onto the EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 1, a platform designed to support external payloads mounted to the International Space Station.

You can watch footage of the extraction from SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft and installation onto the EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 1 at NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

After sending initial commands to AWE on Monday, Nov. 20, the team has confirmed that the instrument has power. All four cameras are on and data is being received by the science team. The mission is operating as expected.

AWE will enable scientists to compute the size, energy, and momentum of atmospheric gravity waves, which can be formed by weather disturbances, such as thunderstorms or hurricanes. AWE is the first NASA mission to attempt this type of science to provide insight into how terrestrial weather impacts space weather which may affect satellite communications and tracking in orbit. AWE has joined NASA’s fleet of heliophysics missions studying the heliosphere – a vast interconnected system that includes the space surrounding Earth and other planets, out to the farthest limits of the Sun’s constantly flowing stream of solar wind.

AWE is led by Ludger Scherliess at Utah State University in Logan, and it is managed by the Explorers Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory built the AWE instrument and provides the mission operations center.

By Abbey Interrante
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.