ASIM was launched successfully by SpaceX from Cape Canaveral 2 April 2018. (Photo: NASA)

ASIM launched successfully from Cape Canaveral

Tuesday 03 Apr 18


Torsten Neubert
Chief Consultant
DTU Space
+45 45 25 97 31


Kristian Pedersen
DTU Space
+45 20 11 74 77
The ASIM-observatory has been launched for the International Space Station, ISS, 2 April 2018. ASIM will observe gigantic lightning and Gamma-ray flashes powered by thunderstorms.

Five, four, three, two, one…  ASIM - The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor - has now been launched successfully by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

While the first stage of the booster was ejected, the second stage, with the unmanned Dragon cargo capsule, continued towards the International Space Station, ISS, at 400 km altitude. After 2-3 days, the Dragon will dock at the ISS and after 10-12 days, the ASIM instruments will be mounted externally on the European Columbus-module on ISS. 

 DTU Space - Denmarks National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark - is scientific leader of the ASIM project. DTU Space director Kristian Pedersen is pleased that ASIM is off to a good start:

"With this project Denmark demonstrates that we can develop new and advanced technology as well as lead groundbreaking international research projects. ASIM will provide insight into climate processes, which can contribute to better global climate models. ASIM will be both an inspiration and benefit to Denmark as well as global society," he says.

Improved lightning and climate models

During the coming years ASIM will measure gigantic lightning known as the red sprites, blue jets and gigantic jets in the atmosphere high above the thunderclouds.

The observatory will in particular measure X- and Gamma rays from thunderstorms and the production of antimatter. Understanding these processes will allow for improved models of greenhouse gas perturbations by thunderstorms, and thereby improved climate prediction models.

The scientific leader and Chair of ESA’s ASIM Facility Science Team, Torsten Neubert, DTU Space explains:

”Lightning in the upper thin atmosphere are slower and larger which allows our instruments to measure them in detail. One can say that the new phenomena that ASIM will observe represent a window into the inner processes of lightning. We expect that ASIM will give us new knowledge of the workings of lightning. We also need ground observations of thunderstorms from the many active region on the planet and collaborate, therefore, with scientific teams in more than 20 countries.”

An international project

ASIM is a European Space Agency, ESA, project. The scientific leadership is within the Technical University of Denmark, DTU Space. The technical consortium is led by the Danish aerospace company, Terma.

Carsten Jørgensen, Senior Vice President, Terma Space says:
"It has been a great and exciting challenge for Terma to be heading the international team of companies and universities that, for the past 10 years, have been involved in developing the ASIM instrument. The project has demonstrated that Danish industry, working with Danish researchers and international partners, can deliver groundbreaking space technology.

Other partners are University of Valencia, Spain, University of Bergen, Norway, Space Research Center, Poland, and OHB-Italia, Italy.

Click here to read more on the ASIM project.

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