ASIM Research Themes and Objectives

ASIM research has three main general themes: Climate processes, the interplay of the atmosphere with the Earth's surface and changes of the atmosphere from space processes.


Climate processes

  • Thunderstorms
  • Electrical discharges (TLEs) in the stratosphere and mesosphere
  • X- and gamma-radiation from thunderstorms
  • Water vapor transport
  • Cloud nucleation
  • Gravity waves
  • Noctilucent clouds
  • The dynamics of the upper atmosphere


Earth's surface and the atmosphere

  • Hurricanes
  • Dust storms
  • Volcanoes
  • Forest fires


Interactions of space processes with the atmosphere

  • Comets and meteors
  • NO from solar radiation
  • Thunderstorm interactions with the ionosphere and magnetosphere
  • Aurora


Measurements from other satellites and instrumentation on the ground and on aircraft and/or balloons will also be used.

Primary research objectives:

  • Study the physics of TLEs including possible NOx production from TLEs. Optical detection of TLEs with high spatial and time resolution in selected spectral bands to have a comprehensive global survey.
  • Study the physics of TGFs (Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes) and their relationship with TLEs and thunderstorms. X-ray and γ-ray detection of TGFs with high time resolution and at photon energies reaching between 10-keV up to 10 MeV.
  • Simultaneous optical detection of thunderstorm and TLE activity with TGF activity. The optical instruments must view with the X- and γ-ray detector towards the nadir
  • Study the coupling to the mesosphere, thermosphere and ionosphere of thunderstorms and TLEs
  • Observations from space during a minimum of one year at all local times to observe seasonal and local time variations in thunderstorm, TLE and TGF activity.

Secondary research objectives: 

  • Spectroscopic studies of the aurora
  • Studies of greenhouse gas concentrations above thunderstorms (NOx, O3) 
  • Studies of meteor ablation in the mesosphere and thermosphere. 


Optical and X-ray measurements are used to study aurora, differential absorption of light emissions from lightning-illuminated thunderstorm clouds measured by photometers defines ozone column densities. NOx production in TLEs is to be monitored by the UV (145 – 230 nm) photometer and optical imaging and photometers will be used to study meteor ablation.