Prototech with hardware delivery to the climate observatory ASIM at the International Space Station

The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) was successfully launched on April the 2nd by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida. On board was equipment delivered by Prototech.

04.04.2018

Prototech with hardware delivery to the climate observatory ASIM at the International Space Station

While the first stage of the booster was ejected, the second stage, with the unmanned Dragon cargo capsule, continued towards the International Space Station (ISS) at 400 km altitude.

After 2-3 days, the Dragon will dock at the ISS and the ASIM will be mounted on Europe’s Columbus laboratory, looking straight down at Earth. The crew will install it using the Station’s robotic arm within nine days of arrival.

During the coming years, from its unique vantage point 400 km above Earth, ASIM will be able to catch the gigantic electrical discharges, a phenomenon difficult to observe from the ground. ASIM will measure gigantic lightning known as the red sprites, blue jets and gigantic jets in the atmosphere high above the thunderclouds.

The ASIM observatory will in particular measure X- and Gamma rays from thunderstorms and the production of antimatter. Understanding these processes will allow for improved models of greenhouse gas perturbations by thunderstorms, and thereby improved climate prediction models

The main scientific objective is to study the correlation between Transient Luminous Events (TLE) and Terrestrial Gamma Ray Bursts (TGF) which occur in the upper atmosphere above thunderstorms. This is achieved by the two instruments, one optical instrument (MMIA) for observing TLEs and one X and Gamma Ray instrument (MXGS) for observing TGFs.

The University of Bergen - Birkeland Centre for Space Science (BCSS) delivered equipment to the MXGS instrument, which is optimized to detect occurrence frequency of TGFs and obtain spectral characteristics at the highest time resolution as possible.

“Prototech assisted BCSS with mechanical design, analyses and vibration testing, as well as manufacturing of mechanical hardware for the electronic housing of the unit” says Geir Omdal - Marketing and Technology Manager at Prototech.

The ASIM MXGS instrument carries two set of detectors for TGF. The low energy detector sensitive in the spectral band from 15 keV to 400 keV and the high-energy detector sensitive from 200 keV to 40 MeV. The low energy detector is pixelated in 128 by 128 channels, which, in combination with a high mass density coded mask in front of the detector, allows advanced post-processing algorithms to pin point the direction to the TGF source. Overlaying the TGF direction with the optical imaging by the MMIA instrument, the correlation with lightning and TLE is possible.

 

Facts about the ASIM project

  • ASIM is a European Space Agency (ESA) project and is developed by the ASIM consortium.
  • The ASIM consortium is formed by Terma A/S, Technical University of Denmark, University of Bergen, University of Valencia, Polish Academy of Science Space Research Center and OHB Italia.
  • Terma A/S is the prime contractor under ESA for the payload development. Initial phases started in 2004 to 2009, and development started in 2010. ASIM was launched April 2nd, 2018.
  • ASIM includes the MXGS (Modular X- and Gamma-ray Sensor) instrument that carries a low- and high-energy detector that measures the energy, direction and arrival time of individual photons. And the MMIA (Modular Multi-spectral Imaging Array) of two cameras that captures short video sequences of activity and three photometers that measure the light intensity at high time-resolution. The cameras and photometers measure in different color bands.
  • Mass: 314 kg
  • Dimensions: 122 cm x 134 cm x 99 cm
  • Power: 200W
  • Heaters: 230W
  • The budget of ASIM is 35-40 MEuro

Click here for more details on the science objectives and the instruments

 

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