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Development of dual segmented Langmuir probe for ESA Proba-2 satellite

Czech experiment onboard Proba-2 satellite

Project duration: 2005 to 2008

Project manager: Pavel Trávníček

The Dual Segmented Langmuir Probe (DSLP) is one of the four scientific experiments on board the ESA satellite Proba-2. The DSLP instrument has been developed and manufactured in the Czech Republic by a scientific-industrial consortium. The consortium is led by the Astronomical Institute (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic) with a technological and industrial support provided by the Research and Scientific Support Department of ESA/ESTEC (Noordwijk, Holland), the Czech Space Research Center company (Brno, Czech Republic), and SPRINX Systems company (Prague, Czech Republic).

The DSLP instrument will aim at studying characteristic macroscopic properties (e.g. density, temperature or flow dynamics) of ionospheric plasma and try to identify observed irregularities with possible solar-terrestrial connection related to sudden space weather events. A comprehensive knowledge of the ionospheric environment is important from many not solely scientific aspects. Intense solar events cause massive geomagnetic storms that represent possible risk of damage of communication and navigation satellite systems, ground electric grids and pipelines, or even radiation hazards for humans.

The Proba-2 satellite was launched on 2nd November 2009 and successfull connection with the instrument was established a few weeks later. The tests confirmed a good health of all onboard instruments. The recent scientific analysis of acquired data shows so far very good results, which are being prepared for publication.

Astronomical Institute, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

AI ASCR is a professional Czech Institution in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. Scientific research is performed in four science areas – physics of the Sun and heliosphere, physics of stars, physics of meteors and asteroids and physics of galaxies and planetary systems.

Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

The workplace is focused on the research of physical processes in the Earth’s atmosphere and in interplanetary space. The broad field is covered by five scientific departments including the Space Physics Department to which the described project belongs.

What would you name as main benefits of the project to you and your institute?

“Project DSLP gave the first chance to our team and to the Czech Republic to participate fully in the exploration of Sun’s influence on the Earth’s ionosphere within scientific programs of ESA. We had an opportunity to undergo the full development of the instrument from the initial design and testing until its final flight integration. Preparation phase has ended by successful tests of the instrument in orbit. The main phase of the project, i.e. the acquisition and analysis of acquired data has recently started, nevertheless we can say already now that we have learned a lot about the preparation and materialization of scientific space experiment onboard an ESA satellite.”