The Operational Role of the Belgian User Support and Operations Centre for the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) on-board the International Space Station.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Didier Moreau Sr1, Christian Muller1, Praveen K Pandey1 and Norma Bock Crosby2, (1)Belgian User Support and Operations Centre, Brussels, Belgium, (2)Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Brussels, Belgium
The Belgian User Support and Operations Centre (B.USOC) is an operational centre managing technological and scientific payloads on the International Space Station (ISS). B.USOC is the Facility Responsible Centre (FRC) for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) payload and also manages the Scientific Mission Centre of the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) PICARD satellite that monitors solar activity, among various other space missions. In this respect, B.USOC is ideally positioned to manage possible synergies between ASIM, the satellite TARANIS (Tool for the Analysis of RAdiation from lightNIng and Sprites), other space missions and ground-based networks.

The ASIM mission (Neubert, 2009) consists of a package of two nadir instruments: one for the visible spectrum and another for X-ray and gamma-ray frequencies. In the normal operating mode “trigger mode” both instruments continuously measure, but, do not record data below certain thresholds. Another mode is a “timed mode”, where, during a certain time the observations are recorded even in the absence of triggers.

The “timed mode” demands a lot of flexibility from both scientific teams and B.USOC, as, ASIM’s main targets of investigation (sprites and elves) are related to intense thunderstorms and thus, require reliable meteorological forecasts in the entire range of ISS latitudes. Moreover, ASIM is sensitive to a large number of phenomena of which most have a direct relationship with solar activity and therefore would probably need support from the ESA SSA (Space Situational Awareness) Space Weather Coordination Centre (SSCC) that shares the same campus with B.USOC. Local cooperation between the two centres, together with other space payloads such as TARANIS and ground-based networks will greatly optimize ASIM payload operations as well as scientific return.

Neubert, T., and the ASIM Team, ASIM – an Instrument Suite for the International Space Station, Corte Workshop 2008, Coupling of Thunderstorms and Lightning Discharges to Near-Earth, Corsica, 2008, edited by N. B. Crosby et al, American Institute of Physics, 978-0-7354-0657-5/09/, 2009.