Space Observatory

An ESA Mission
with Participation from NASA

ESA: Herschel and Planck Ground Segments Pass Important Milestone

Feature • November 27, 2008

The Herschel and Planck ground segments have successfully passed another milestone on the path to launch. The conclusion of the Board of the Herschel/Planck Ground Segment Readiness Review is that the review objectives have been met and that the ground segments are on target for a launch slot opening on 10 April 2009.

The Ground Segment Readiness Review

The Ground Segment Readiness Review (GSRR) is one of a series of Agency reviews marking the progress of each scientific satellite mission. Each review consists of a thorough examination of the technical and development status of the mission and assesses the achievements against documented review objectives, mission and project requirements, good engineering practice and lessons learned from other programmes.

The complete Herschel and Planck ground segment, comprising the Science Ground Segments for both Herschel and Planck, and the Mission Operations Centre (MOC), was subject to this review. The review was conducted by the GSRR board which was chaired by J. Louet (Head of the Projects Department, Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration) and M. Warhaut (Head of the Mission Operations Department, Directorate of Operations and Infrastructure) and included a number of senior staff from the Agency.

For the GSRR three Panels were convened with the task of assessing the readiness status of the MOC, the Herschel Science Ground Segment, and the Planck Science Ground Segment, considering a launch slot opening on 10 April 2009. Among the objectives of this review were:

  • to confirm that the ground segment design and implementation was compliant to the mission needs and compatible with the spacecraft as built
  • to check the hardware and software implementation status and to review the results from the integration and validation testing
  • to confirm that all operational data needed to support the missions is available and complete
  • to confirm that the interfaces are fully defined, tested and compliant
  • to review the planning and manpower deployment
  • to verify that the relevant quality standards have been applied
  • to check that there are no outstanding actions or recommendations from previous reviews that have not been addressed
  • to review the relevant documentation pertaining to operations, organisation and deployment to ensure the necessary plans are in place to proceed to the next phase
  • to check that the remaining activities remain compatible with the schedule

Successful outcome

Having carefully considered the reports from each of the three Panels the Board concluded that the objectives of the review had been met. Recognising that there was, as usual at this stage of a project, a significant amount of work yet to be completed the Board noted that the remaining activities are well identified and that their completion is planned and consistent with the schedule to launch. The review was declared closed and the board report was issued at end October.

The results of this review will be presented as input to the Flight Qualification and Acceptance Review (FQAR) board for consideration in their review which is scheduled to conclude in January 2009.

With the successful completion of this Ground Segment Readiness Review the Herschel and Planck projects have successfully passed another milestone on the path to launch.