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