Научная аппаратура «УФ-атмосфера»Oleg Skripochka:
Dear visitors to the Korolev Planet web site,
I’m Oleg Skripochka, flight engineer of Expedition Sixty One to the International Space Station and today I’m going to tell you about a new interesting space Experiment.
While onboard the ISS, we, cosmonauts can look at our planet from the outside and see how beautiful, alive and radiant it is, and how many amazing things are going on down there. We can clearly see cities, auroras, lightings.
But there are many things which escape our sight!

From time to time in the Earth atmosphere there occur some dim, very short-lived flashes. These might be tracks from high-energy space particles coming to us from other galaxies, or flashes caused by passage of light-weight meteors, which fade while still in the upper atmosphere. It turns out that the upper atmosphere is much more alive than one might think looking at it from the ground, inside it, there also occur some kind of thunderstorms, which are almost invisible from below, and there light is so short-lived that it is virtually impossible to see them with the naked eye. These unusual flashes were given unusual names: elves, sprites, trolls, jets... They occur at high altitudes of about 40 to 100 kilometers above ground and it is a response of the upper atmosphere to what is happening at its very bottom, that is, to lightings between clouds and the ground.
In order to observe such fleeting (or, as scientist say, transient) events, they developed and brought to the International Space Station this piece of scientific equipment called UV-Atmosphere. This is a very sensitive telescope: It has a kind of lens, a Fresnel lens, which is orders of magnitude larger than any video camera’s. The lens diameter is about 25 cm, and the surface area is 500 square centimeters. It has a very wide field of view of about 40 degrees, and its temporal resolution is 2.5 microseconds, which means it can take about 400 frames per second! It is these characteristics of the equipment that enable it to effectively detect and record all kinds of very rapid processes that take place in the Earth atmosphere. And this helps us to discover and study the things that cannot be seen with our eyes, it helps to gain a deeper knowledge of the way our atmosphere works and the way our Universe works.
So, we installed on Porthole No.9 (which is the largest window we have) a special adapter with 6 screws. The special feature of Porthole 9 is that it is made of quartz glass, which is transparent to all kinds of radiation, including ultraviolet radiation.
Now we install on this adapter the equipment proper. You must orient it in a certain way (using this arrow on the instrument case), and we install it on the guides, with the lens towards the window. This needs to be done with care, making sure that we don’t damage the lens of our telescope, and now we secure it with 4 clamps.
And now we can say that our equipment is installed, the next step is to connect the cables.
I have here in my hands the power cable and the grounding cable. We have already connected one side to the grounding cable, to the grounding point, and connected the power cord to the onboard outlet. I’ve already removed protective caps from connectors on the instrument, and now we first must connect the grounding cable to the instrument, and then we connect the power cord. All the operations must be performed wearing an antistatic wrist strap. The hooking-up is fairly simple, and now we already have connected the hardware. The next small but important step is to insert a memory stick into its slot. The memory stick has the data necessary for the operation. And it is also here that all the acquired data will be written.


Luca Parmitano:
We installed it on one of the windows of the Russian module Zvezda that is pointed towards nadir, that is, towards Earth. For the first time, thanks to international cooperation of 16 countries headed by Italy and Russia we are going to see the ultraviolet radiation of Earth at night. Mini-EUSO is a super-high-speed camera which can take 400 000 pictures per second, letting us see each individual photon, even small bioluminescent effects produced by bacteria or plankton. It can also take pictures of meteorites entering the Earth atmosphere, and can help in cataloguing space debris orbiting our planet.
Mini-EUSO can do all these things thanks to a 25 cm lens that is similar to a Fresnel lens. This kind of lens is especially suitable for space cameras because they are thin and strong. The focusing power of the lens equivalent to a very heavy classical lens is achieved through knurling.
The field of view is 40 degrees, which corresponds to the surface area on the ground of 260 x 260 square kilometers. Having a continuous data acquisition we can, for the first time, build a dynamic map of the Earth nighttime ultraviolet emissions. These measurements are complemented with two other cameras, which make observations in the visible and near-infrared spectrum ranges.

To see the incredible pictures and maps of Earth made by Mini-EUSO, follow the Italian space agency and continue to learn about experiments conducted in space thanks to ASI.

Научная аппаратура «УФ-атмосфе...
Научная аппаратура «УФ-атмосфера»


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