ASIM Observatory Arrived On ISS And Is Ready To Study Transient Light Events and Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flashes

ASIM Observatory Arrived On ISS And Is Ready To Study Transient Light Events and Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flashes

ASIM, an observatory specialized in the study of stratospheric light events has arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) for its installation in the Columbus module of the orbital complex. The ASIM Observatory (Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor) of the ESA, weighing 314 kilos, was transported aboard an automated commercial cargo vessel, Space X Dragon spacecraft, which landed in the orbital complex on April 4th.

ASIM will study storm-related events

ASIM observatory will capture and analyze Transient Light Events (TLE) and terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, which represent some electrical events strongly connected to the storms in the Earth’s atmosphere but which are situated dozens of kilometers above the storm clouds.

The Transient Light Events or TLE have often been reported by pilots but are hard to be examined due to the fact they form way above the thunderstorms. Besides, some satellites have examined these events and made some observations but the satellites’ cameras angles of view were not perfect to gather important data for a large-scale study.

In 2015, an ESA astronaut, Andreas Mogensen, captured on camera very large flashes of lights at an 18 km altitude. Thus, since the ISS is orbiting the Earth lower and around the Equator, mainly, attaching ASIM to it will shed more light on the Transient Light Events and Terrestrial Gamma Rays, the ESA engineers and astronomers hope.

These phenomena are involved in the Earth’s magnetic shield against radiations

In addition to being a phenomenon that is not completely comprehended by scientists and whose causes and effects are not totally known and explained, the strong electrical bursts can ‘fly’ far above the Earth’s stratosphere and are directly involved in the way the atmosphere protects our planet from Solar radiations.

“The researchers intend to investigate the relationship between terrestrial gamma-ray bursts, lightning strikes, and high-altitude electrical discharges during all seasons, by monitoring and collecting data continuously for at least two years,” ESA stated.

ASIM consists of two instruments:

  • The MXGS to detect the terrestrial gamma rays;
  • The MMIA to detect these mysterious ‘transitory light events’;

In short, the ESA Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor, ASIM, has arrived today on ISS and will be installed to observe and study Transient Light Events and Terrestrial Gamma Rays.


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