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Denmark’s next major space project prepared for launch

(20 November 2017 - Terma) Denmark's next major space project, The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM), is on its way to the U.S. to be prepared for launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch date is scheduled for Tuesday, 13 March 2018, and ASIM is planned for launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher.

ASIM is an advanced observatory to be mounted on the outside of the European Columbus module at ISS.

Once the observatory is in operation, ASIM will observe and photograph the large electrical discharges from thunder clouds in the area between the earth’s atmosphere and space – the layers called the stratosphere and mesosphere. These spectacular electrical discharges, known as red sprites, blue jets, haloes, and elves, were observed for the first time in 1989. There is great scientific interest in a closer study, and while staying at ISS in September 2015, Astronaut Andreas Mogensen made a series of spectacular recordings of the huge lightning phenomena.

The Danish technology company Terma is technical lead on the observatory, while Torsten Neubert, chief consultant at DTU Space, is scientific lead on this exciting program led by ESA in collaboration with the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). Terma and DTU Space have both played a key role in the development of the advanced instruments included in the observatory.

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ASIM mounted on the Columbus module at ISS (courtesy: Terma)

"It has been an exciting challenge for Terma. This is the first time that we have been the technical main contractor on such a large space project, and thus responsible for the development and completion to the European Space Agency (ESA). With ASIM, the Danish space community has proven its expertise and the high scientific and technical level that it masters", says Carsten Jørgensen, Senior Vice President of Terma’s Space business.

According to Kristian Pedersen, Director of DTU Space, ASIM proves Danish international leadership – both within space science and technology:

"Danish space exploration is important to Denmark. With ASIM, we show that Denmark has technological and scientific competencies at a high international level, and that we at DTU, through collaboration with Danish industry, are at the forefront within important space applications. In addition, we hope that the program will help to attract more young people to studies in natural science. We need these engineers in future."

At an event at Terma in Herlev today, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen unveiled a 1:1 model of the 314 kg observatory with a total value of DKK 350 million. Andreas Mogensen's participation in the event at Terma has been arranged in collaboration with ESA and the Danish Board of Education and Research.

About DTU Space

We research, develop technology, advise, educate, and contribute to innovation within space exploration for the benefit of society. Among others, we explore the early solar system, planets in our solar system, the Earth's magnetic field, and monitor and measure inland ice, sea ice, and water masses from space.