DELPHI: A Pathfinder to LCAS on board the International Space Station

Friday, 19 December 2014
Craig E. DeForest1, Timothy A Howard1, Glenn T. Laurent1 and Jed Diller2, (1)Southwest Research Institute Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, CO, United States
NASA's venerable LCAS sounding rocket program has been the primary means to test new space instrumentation for space physics, for over 60 years. Recently, new LCAS pathways have been introduced for instruments and science that require longer exposure than a sounding rocket affords. The International Space Station (ISS) offers similar infrastructure to a sounding rocket, with ample mass and volume, controlled attitude, and predefined and generous power and telemetry interfaces. The DEmonstration LEO Polarizing Heliospheric Imager is an LCAS mission that pioneers replacing the SPARCS+black brant stack with the ISS itself, to exploit the environment afforded by the ISS and demonstrate new instrumentation on-orbit.

DELPHI is a solar off-pointed heliospheric imager that demonstrates the use of pB/B and quantitative photometry to locate solar wind features in 3-D with high spatial resolution, in a few-month mission. It makes use of the stable environment and high telemetry volume (1Mbps) on ISS to improve image quality with ground postprocessing. It is built on the ISS-standard ExPA interface and robotically deployed from the Space-X Dragon trunk to an external mount location.

We will discuss some of the engineering and programmatic trades go with designing an orbital sounding-rocket-class instrument, and advocate using ISS as a future platform for instrument development.