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ASIM [ASIM consortium]

The ASIM (Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor) is a climate observatory for the International Space Station (ISS) to study Transient Luminous Event (TLE) and Terrestial Gamma Ray Bursts (TGF).

It is developed by the ASIM consortium for ESA. The ASIM consortium is formed by Terma A/S, Technical University of Denmark, University of Bergen, University of Valencia, Polish Academy of Science Space Research Center, and OHB Italia. The Technical University of Denmark is leading the scientific advisory board to ESA and Terma A/S is the prime contractor under ESA for the payload development. Development started in 2010 and current launch is planned for 2018 with Falcon-9/Dragon by SpaceX. The budget of ASIM is 35-40 MEUR.

The goals for the missions are:

  • Provide a comprehensive survey of the occurrences of Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) and Terrestrial γ-flashes (TGFs) on a global scale;
  • Study the physics of TGFs and their relationship with TLEs;
  • Study the physics of TLEs;
  • Determine the characteristics that make thunderstorms TLE- and TGF-active;
  • Study the coupling to the ionosphere of thunderstorms and TLEs;
  • Study the effects of thunderstorms and TGFs on the Earth's radiation belts.

ASIM carries two scientific instruments, the MMIA for observing TLEs in optical and near UV bands and the MXGS for observing TGFs in X and gamma ray bands. The platform consists of a data handling and power unit and the CEPA, a standard structural item for ISS external payloads for Columbus.

  • The MXGS (Modular X and Gamma Ray Instrument) instrument carries two sets of detectors for TGF. The low energy detector sensitive in the spectral band from 15 keV to 400 keV and the high energy detector sensitive from 200 keV to 40 MeV. The low energy detector is pixelated in 128 by 128 channels, which, in combination with a high mass density coded mask in front of the detector, allows advanced post-processing algorithms to pin point the direction to the TGF source. Overlaying the TGF direction with the optical imaging by the MMIA instrument, the correlation with lightning and TLE is possible.
  • The MMIA (Modular Multi-Imaging Array) instrument is capable of observing 12 frames per second continuously in the 777.4 nm and 337 nm bands, both only 5 nm wide. Combined with 100 kHz photometer data from the same two bands in addition to a 180-230 nm band, data is filtered en realtime to optimize the available downlink capability allocated to ASIM on ISS. ASIM uses optical observations in carefully selected bands in order to filter out data with TLEs from the lightning data. Since downlink is limited, these algorithms are implemented in the on-board software.

ASIM will be transported in the unpressurized trunk of a Dragon cargo craft to the ISS, where it will be mounted on the COF (Columbus) module.

Nation: Europe
Type / Application: Earth Science
Operator: ESA
Contractors: ASIM consortium
Equipment: MMIA, MXGS
Configuration: Attached ISS payload
Propulsion: None
Power: Via ISS
Lifetime: 2 years (minimum)
Mass: 330 kg
Orbit: 400 km × 400 km, 51.6 (typical)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
ASIM - 2018 CC Falcon-9 v1.2 with Dragon CRS-xx


  • ASIM consortium: ASIM