On January 10, the lightning and thunder hunter ASIM will be relocated during a careful robotic activity, lasting about 4 hours. The robotic arm Canadarm2 anchored on the International Space Station will achieve this relocation under the scrutiny of the Belgian operations team (B.USOC).
ASIM is a 314 kg payload, installed outside the Columbus module (shown in figure below), the European space laboratory of the International Space Station. Since April 2018, it monitors and studies electrical events at high altitudes above thunderstorms. The platform currently occupied by ASIM must be vacated to make room for a new NASA experiment.
To continue successfully the fruitful observations of the ASIM lightning and thunder hunter, there was no alternative but to transfer it to another location. The Belgian space control center (B.USOC), responsible for ASIM operations, has prepared the payload relocation during the last 9 months, in coordination with different engineering teams across Europe.
The ASIM mission was supposed to last 2 years, but given the great performance of the instruments and the outstanding scientific publications released (in Science and Nature magazines), the mission was extended for another 2 years. Presently, the payload must leave its position to the American experiment, scheduled for installation on January 11.
By moving to the nadir observation platform of Columbus (pointing straight down to the surface of the Earth), the orientation of the instruments’ sensors will change by 90 degrees, allowing them to chase thunderstorms from another angle.
Project Manager B.USOC
E-mail : alice (dot) michel (at) busoc (dot) be
E-mail : lucie (dot) lamort (at) aeronomie (dot) be
- Nature paper
- Science paper
- “New atmosphere instrument on International Space Station looking for thunderstorms”
- “Hunting elves, sprites, blue jets, and gamma ray flashes from the ISS”
- “Storm hunter turns two”