Seeing as the Double Star mission was a success, the European Space Agency and the Chinese Academy of Sciences decided once again to work together on another mission. This time, the mission will be the first of its kind as the two entities will not only launch the mission but also will cooperatively choose, devise, enforce and examine the outcome of the mission. Workshops were initiated as a primary step, then an announcement for proposals was released in January 2015. After the two entities reviewed the plans, SMILE was selected as the best candidate from the 13 that had been presented. SMILE was Canada’s University of Calgary’s proposal.
What is SMILE, and what is its purpose?
SMILE, or the Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer, is a mission that will illustrate for the first time the magnetosphere in X-rays and UV for almost 40 hours per orbit, increasing our knowledge about the synergy between the solar wind and Earth’s magnetosphere. The SMILE space shuttle is supposed to launch in 2023.
SMILE will be comprised of several telescopes and devices to measure, map, and examine Earth’s magnetosphere. They are a Soft X-ray Imager (SXI), a UV Imager (UVI), a Light Ion Analyser (LIA) and a Magnetometer (MAG).
Among these, the UV Imager will be the result of the collaboration between the University of Calgary (Canada), the Canadian Space Agency, the Chinese National Space Science Centre, CAS, the Polar Research Institute of China, and the Liège Space Center (CSL), Belgium.
Canada Makes A Great Contribution To Satellite Mission
Canada is going to be the lead producer of the UVI as it collected funds from several Canadian associations and contracted two entities to design the UVI (Honeywell was selected) and the UVI Science Operations and Data Centre (the University of Calgary was selected).
The mission is of great importance as it would help scientists to comprehend space conditions better. It is well known that space weather can have a negative impact on devices and technologies that are on low Earth orbit or in space, leading to their malfunctioning and even damage. By understanding space weather better, scientists might be able to create upgraded technologies to adjust to the harsh conditions.