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On International Space Station’s (ISS) Columbus science laboratory, ESA recently installed the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor, known as the Space Storm Hunter. A robotic arm measuring 16 meters in length moved the 314-kg payload into position.

The Space Storm Hunter looks straight down at Earth, observing electrical bursts in the atmosphere that appear above thunderstorms.

Before the monitor can start its mission, scientists have to first verify the communication channels. Communication satellites will beam data over the ISS network to Earth-based stations and control centers.

Two instrument suites will capture infrared and ultraviolet optical images, supported by gamma-ray and x-ray detectors. An array of sensors will measure light levels, which will determine if an image should be taken and sent back to Earth. Engineers will go through a trial-and-error process to find the proper light levels for optimal results.

The Space Storm Hunter also packs a set of visual cameras to locate areas of interest, photomultiplier tubes to record transient luminous event details, and additional sensors to observe terrestrial gamma-ray flashes.  

“We are thrilled to start operating these instruments in space, this is what the hours spent training, developing procedures, and preparing for anomalies was for. We are ready to deliver some fascinating new scientific data,” says Anuschka Helderweirt, operations engineer at the Belgian operations center.

It will take up to six weeks to ensure each portion of the system is operating as expected.

To learn more, check out the infographic below, courtesy of ESA.

(Image Credit: ESA)
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