The site Ingeniøren reports on the success of getting one of the most anticipated Danish space projects in years off the ground.
The climate observatory ASIM (Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor) is finally on its way to the International Space Station, ISS, after a year’s delay. The SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-14 mission made sure to bring the Dragon spacecraft with ASIM into orbit Monday, and while slowly achieving a higher altitude, the spacecraft finally docked with ISS Wednesday. The process of securing ASIM onto the outside of ISS is expected to be completed in about 10 days.
For the SpaceX crew at Cape Canaveral control center in Florida, this launch was mostly routine, as it is the 14th SpaceX mission to ISS. However, for a delegation of almost 100 European researchers and engineers, including families, from DTU Space and high-tech company Terma, this was anything but routine.
The mission is the culmination of almost 12 years of work, and on board the Dragon capsule is the 330 kg climate observatory ASIM — 1 cubic meter of state-of-the-art high-tech space instrumentation. It was a great relief for the people involved to witness the successful launch.
ASIM has cost 370 million DKK (61 million USD), of which 220 million DKK (36 million USD) are from Danish sources, which makes ASIM the largest Danish space project to date. The ASIM mission is realized through the European Space Agency, ESA. Other major partners include the University of Valencia in Spain, and the University of Bergen in Norway.
Chief consultant at DTU Space and head of the scientific team behind ASIM Torsten Neubert to Ingeniøren:
“This is really exciting, because it is always risky to send something up with a rocket. We hope and expect it to go well, but it’s not something we can take for granted … we have struggled for years to make it all work … Now it’s reality.”
For the next two years, ASIM will study giant lightning that stretches vertically through the atmospheric layers, and examine how they might affect the climate on earth, including global warming. It is believed that giant lightning can act as corridors that displace the chemical composition of the atmosphere and the ozone layer, and thus they must be taken into account in climate models.
ASIM is fitted with two cameras, three light sensors that detect light glow in different wavelengths, and an X-ray detector. Although the primary target is lightning above thunderstorms, ASIM will also observe meteors, water vapor, cloud formations, and more.