B.USOC role in the ASIM operations on the ISS

ASIM is an ISS science payload aimed principally at the observation of Transitory Light Events (TLE) occurring over intense thunderstorms lightning. ASIM observes also TGF’s (terrestrial gamma rays flashes which are also related to strong lightning. It has been proposed by the Danish scientist Torsten Neubert and is due for launch in 2016. B.USOC is Facility Responsible Centre (FRC) for this payload.

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The ASIM mission constitutes of a package of two nadir instruments : one for the visible and another for the X ray and radio frequencies, the normal operating mode is a trigger mode where both instruments are continuously measuring but do not record data below thresholds to be determined by the science team. Another mode is a “timed mode” where at a certain time and at a certain location on earth, all the observations are recorded even in the absence of triggers.

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Fig.1: the ASIM payload on the ISS COLUMBUS module, the SOLAR payload is presently on the empty platform on top of COLUMBUS. (ESA artist representation).

ASIM is also sensitive to a large number of optical phenomena which have been studied for a long time without being subject to the systematic observations allowed by a space platform. These are for example noctilucent clouds, earth observations including man made lights, volcanic eruptions, large fires and even the evasive earthquake lights. Other important role of the operation centre will be to organise timed operations at the times of coincidence with other space payloads as TARANIS and ground based networks as well as of course on zones and periods of intense thunderstorms (e.g.: the Congo basin, Carribeans large islands…).