ASIM Space Platform

The International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) orbits the earth at an altitude between 340 km and 400 km. It continues to be expanded with additional modules and facilities.

The ISS is in the lowest permanently available orbit. Altitude is maintained by the spaceships docking at the station. They give the ISS a boost with their engines, lifting the altitude. If this is not done, the ISS will loose altitude because of air drag and burn up within 2 years.

The orbital plane is 51.6 degrees relative to the equatorial plane. This allows for observations over the main thunderstorm regions of the earth. At the same time, the ISS reaches sufficiently high latitudes to study energetic particle precipitation and aurora powered by violent storms on the sun.
 

ISS

Figure 2: The ISS (340 – 400 km height) flying above Spain. The Sierra Nevada Mountains (3478 m altitude) near the city of Granada (Spain) can be clearly seen in the right bottom corner of the image. The city of Granada is a little up to the West from Sierra Nevada. The Gibraltar strait is also visible in the middle of the image.

 

Columbus

Figure 3: ASIM at the COLUMBUS module of the ISS. ASIM is the grey instrument in the right side of the drawing. Below is shown the atomic clock called ACES of CNES (gold box), tip companion of ASIM. Above can be seen other future instruments.