GPM Doing Well, Time to Color in the Eyes

March 2nd, 2014 by Ellen Gray
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Every mission has its little offerings to fate to back up the hard work and attention to detail that goes into prepping for launch. While in Japan, the GPM team adopted the Japanese custom of coloring in one eye of a Daruma doll.

I first encountered it when visiting the support control room for the launch dress rehearsal last weekend in the Spacecraft Test and Assembly building at Tanegashima Space Center. Sitting on top of one of the computers was a round, squat, stylized doll. Lisa Bartusek, one of the systems engineers on console for the rehearsal, explained that in Japan, the Daruma doll is often given as a gift of encouragement for working toward a goal. When the goal is set, one eye is colored in. When the goal is achieved, the second eye is colored in.

A daruma doll is seen amongst the NASA GPM Mission launch team in the Spacecraft Test and Assembly Building 2 (STA2) during the all-day launch simulation for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC), Tanegashima Island, Japan. One eye of the daruma doll is colored in when a goal is set, in this case a successful launch of GPM, and the second eye is colored in at the completion of the goal. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

A Daruma doll is seen amongst the NASA GPM Mission launch team in the Spacecraft Test and Assembly Building 2 (STA2) during the all-day launch simulation for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC), Tanegashima Island, Japan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

My reaction to seeing it was that it would definitely motivate me to finish a goal: a doll with only one eye filled in, looking lopsided, would drive me nuts.

The GPM team has several Daruma dolls. The one for the team on console in Tanegashima was for a safe and successful launch. Back at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. a second and third Daruma doll sat in the Launch Support Room (LSR) and the Mission Operations Center where the GPM team is runs the mission now that the GPM Core Observatory is in space. For the Goddard team, their goal was to have the GPM Core Observatory separate from the rocket, get communications running, deploy solar arrays and point toward the sun to collect power. Those were the big moments for the team in the hot seat.

Caitlin Bacha on the GPM propulsion team was on console in the LSR at Goddard and wrote to me a few hours after launch. “Wahoo! Success!! I also think it’s funny how many videos have all the cheering after the rocket goes up. In here it was silent. The cheers came 10 min after with acquisition of signal. And again with the solar arrays deployed. Since then it’s been a flurry of activity in the LSR!”

A daruma doll is seen on the desk of Masahiro Kojima, GPM Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar project manager, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), at the Tanegashima Space Cener's Range Control Center (RCC), Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, Tanegashima, Japan.

JAXA has a daruma doll, too. One is seen on the desk of Masahiro Kojima, GPM Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar project manager, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), at the Tanegashima Space Cener’s Range Control Center (RCC), Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, Tanegashima, Japan.

After GPM’s successful launch at 3:37 a.m. (JST) on Friday, Feb 28, the team started coloring in the eyes.

The colored in eye of the daruma doll in the Tanegashima launch support room. Credit: Cody Buell

The colored in eye of the Daruma doll in the Tanegashima launch support room, Feb 28 (post-launch JST). Credit: Cody Buell

 

The Daruma doll in the Mission Operations Center at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, the eye colored in post-solar array deploy. Credit: Eish Patel

The Daruma doll in the Mission Operations Center at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, the eye colored in post-solar array deploy, Feb 27 (post-launch U.S. EST). Credit: Eish Patel

Larry Morgan, quality assurance, fills in the eye of the Daruma doll on the back of a MHI engineer's t-shirt. Credit: Lynette Marbley

Larry Morgan, quality assurance, fills in the eye of the Daruma doll on the back of a MHI engineer’s t-shirt, Feb 28, Tanegashima, Japan. Credit: Lynette Marbley

Art Azarbarzin, GPM project manager, fills in the second eye of the JAXA Daruma doll at the party after launch with JAXA engineer Hyakusoku Yasutoshi, Feb 28. Credit: Lynette Marbley

Art Azarbarzin, GPM project manager, fills in the second eye of the JAXA Daruma doll at the party after launch with JAXA engineer Hyakusoku Yasutoshi, Feb 28. Credit: Lynette Marbley

The only one still uncolored is the one in launch support room at Goddard. When I asked for photos after launch, Lisa wrote me that the team at Goddard has extended their goal to include powering up the instruments. The GPM Microwave Imager was turned on Mar. 1. The Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar had its controller turned on as well, and full power-up is scheduled for later in the week.

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