TARANIS (Tool for the Analysis of RAdiations from lightNIngs and Sprites) is a micro-satellite project of the French national space program. TARANIS is dedicated to studies of impulsive transfer of energy powered by lightning between the neutral atmosphere, the ionosphere and magnetosphere. The science objectives include characterization of Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) in the stratosphere and mesosphere above thunderstorms (sprites, jets, elves and halos) and Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs). Taranis is also the name of the Celtic god of lightning.
The payload includes two micro cameras and three photometers (NIR to UV) looking at the nadir, X- and gamma-ray detectors (20 kev - 10 Mev), energetic electron detectors (70 kev - 4 Mev) and electric- and magnetic sensors in a wide frequency range (1 Hz - 30 MHz for the electric sensors). The orbit will be polar sun-synchronous at 650 km altitude, with a slow drift to the order of 2 local hours per year.
The National Space Institute is developing the computer for the X- and gamma-rays and Relativistic Electrons (XGRE) instrument. The sensors are being developed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, USA.
The scientific payload is being managed by the Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l'Environnement - Orleans, FRANCE. TARANIS has finished Phase A and is expected to enter Phase B in early 2007. Launch is scheduled for 2011.