News Release

Heading for the ISS

The launch is fast approaching for ASIM, an advanced instrument package built to measure electrical discharges in thunderclouds. April 2nd, ASIM will be on its way to the International Space Station (ISS), onboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft

Business Announcement

The University of Bergen

ASIM on the ISS

image: ASIM will be attached to The International Space Station, on the Columbus laboratory. view more 

Credit: Illustration: Terma

ASIM (The Atmosphere-Space Interaction Monitor) will measure gamma ray flashes from thunderclouds, as well as lightning, red sprites, blue jets, and elves.

The main contractor for ESA is Terma, and the development of ASIM has been a collaboration between multiple European companies and universities.

The Birkeland Centre for Space Science (BCSS) at the University of Bergen, Norway, has designed and built an important part of ASIM; the X-ray/gamma ray detector and its readout electronics.

Gamma ray flashes in thunderstorms weren't discovered until 1994, and are still largely unknown -- which is why there is great excitement linked to the results of the research.

BCSS-leader Nikolai Østgaard is looking forward to the launch.

"You've been working with the ASIM project for 14 years. How is the final approach?"

"Everyone at the centre is excited, both for the launch, and to see how the instruments operate at the ISS," says Østgaard, adding that BCSS will be central in the data analysis as well.

"We have one of the largest research groups for analyzing data from gamma ray flashes. After we get these measurements, the work begins finding what they tell us," says Østgaard.

"I expect we'll get data from 1000 gamma ray flashes each year, giving us a good foundation for mapping the phenomenon. We don't yet know the importance of these flashes, but we will measure their quantity and strength, as well as analyze how the processes are connected. Later we might be able to understand how gamma ray flashes from lightning influence the Earth's atmosphere".

The launch takes place at 10:30 PM CET on April 2nd, from the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


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