SWAS Spacecraft
The Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite
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The Mission

The Instrument

The Spacecraft

Current Status

SWAS Science





Get SWAS Data

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    SWAS Spacecraft Pages
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    Observing in Earth orbit

    The spacecraft will typically point the science instrument at 3-5 targets per orbit. Target selection is constrained so that the solar arrays always face within 15 degress of the Sun, except during eclipse. Each week an observational timeline consisting of science targets and navigational guide stars is generated at the SWAS Science Operations Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Using this timeline, the spacecraft, without ground intervention, will "nod" from an on-source target position to an off-source instrument calibration position up to three degrees away in under 15 seconds. This nodding occurs approximately every 40 seconds.

    The observed data are stored in the spacecraft memory and are periodically sent to a ground station. Within 24 hours of receipt at the ground station, these data are received at the SWAS Science Operations Center. There, the science content of the data is analyzed and new astronomical targets are selected for observation.