ASIM is an observatory, which will be installed on the European Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS). ASIM will be used to study high-altitude electrical discharges in the stratosphere and mesosphere above severe thunderstorms, the so-called red sprites, blue jets, haloes, and elves, and monitor X-ray and Gamma-ray flashes.
The European Space Agency selected Terma to head the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor, a European space program with the objective to take measurements and make observations from ISS. The observatory will measure high altitude lightning discharged from thunderclouds.
ASIM is an observatory, which will be installed on the European Columbus-module of ISS at the beginning of 2018. ASIM will be used by scientists all over the world for Earth observation in order to study high-altitude electrical discharges in the stratosphere and mesosphere above severe thunderstorms, the so-called red sprites, blue jets, haloes, and elves, and monitor X-ray and Gamma-ray flashes. The scientific studies are supported by pictures taken by the Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen during his space flight in 2015.
The video below has been produced by DTU Space:
As the prime contractor, Terma is responsible for ensuring progress and technical management of the project and for the coordination with ESA and subcontractors, and not least for delivering the ASIM observatory for handover to ESA, NASA, and SpaceX at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. ASIM will then undergo final inspection and be installed into the Dragon spacecraft, which is expected to be launched to ISS by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in March 2018.
Development and manufacturing of the ASIM observatory, computers, and systems have been carried out in collaboration with Danish and European companies and universities.
Terma was tasked with the development of the MMIA instrument in close collaboration with DTU Space which has been responsible for the development of the MXGS instrument in collaboration with the universities of Bergen, Valencia, and Warsaw. The main ASIM computer has been developed by OHB Italia in Milan.
Modular Multi-spectral Imaging Array is an instrument which performs optical measurements.
Modular X-ray and Gamma-ray Sensor measures x-ray and gamma-ray radiation from thunderstorms.
Data Handling and Power Unit provides the electrical and communication interface between ASIM and ISS.
After launch, Terma will contribute to the ASIM installation on ISS and the commissioning of the observatory in collaboration with ISS operations. Terma experts will support the staff at the control center in Belgium with calibration and adjustment of the instruments to provide optimum scientific measurements to the scientists at ASIM Data Science Center in Lyngby, Denmark, and worldwide.
ASIM mass and dimensions: 314 kg; 122 cm x 134 cm x 99 cm
The ASIM payload
ASIM will address a variety of important scientific and technological aspects which will include:
- Understanding of the processes involved in thunderstorm initiated electrical discharges
- Understand their impact on atmospheric processes and possible links to climate determining factors
- Development of new technologies with spin-off into terrestrial applications for advanced process control and optical instrumentation
- Demonstration of the fruitful utilization of the collaborative investments in the International Space Station
The video below has been produced by DTU Space, Illustrator Jan Erik Rasmussen
These discharges, to be observed by ASIM, are linked to violent storms in the tropics and inject water vapor, NOx, and other greenhouse gases into the stratosphere where they become part of the climate moderators.
Based on ASIM data, scientists will study these effects, as well as the electrical influence on the ionosphere and the atmospheric interactions with the particle radiation from the Sun. Both of which also have a direct bearing on the Earth’s climate.
Flying the ASIM instrument package on the ISS provides a unique opportunity for systematic monitoring of these phenomena on a global scale. Furthermore, the advanced detector technology to be used for ASIM will have spin-off into a range of important terrestrial applications.
Project Prime and Project Management
MMIA Instrument Team
- Terma A/S, Denmark
- DTU Space, Denmark
MXGS Instrument Team
- DTU Space, Denmark
- University of Bergen, Norway
- University of Valencia, Spain
- Space Research Centre at Polish Academy of Science, Poland
ASIM Principal Investigator
- DTU Space, Denmark (T. Neubert)
- University of Valencia, Spain (V. Reglero)
- University of Bergen, Norway (N. Østgaard)
- Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique, France (E. Blanc)
ESA ASIM Science Coordinator
- ESA, The Netherlands (A. Orr)