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Data Processing Unit for the Energetic Electron Spectrometer


Project duration: 2006 to 2016

Project manager: Lubomír Přech

In cooperation with the French Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, IRAP) the Space Physics Laboratory develops the spectrometer of energetic electrons (Instrument Détecteur d‘Electrons Energétiques, IDEE), for the TARANIS (Tool for the Analysis of Radiations from lightning and Sprites) scientific satellite, which is planned to be launched in 2017 by the French Space Agency, CNES. Partners from IRAP are providing a specialized sensor unit IDEE-S with Si and CdTe semiconductor detectors to register electrons in the energy range 70 - 4000 keV with high time resolution, high sensitivity, directional resolution, and variable geometric factor. The Space Physics Laboratory is designing the IDEE-A analyzer unit for the measurement control, storage and processing of the measured data and their pipelining to the scientific telemetry MEXIC (Multi Experiment Interface Controller). The IDEE spectrometer constitutes two sensor-analyzer pairs oriented at nadir and zenith, both allowing to measure fluxes of up to 1 million electrons per second with resolution of up to 64 energetic intervals, in 5 directional sectors, and spectra time resolution up to 12.5 ms. For selected events, time-tagged elektron data with 1 μs resolution will be directly downlinked for grand processing. The IDEE analyzers are designed to perform nominally even in harsh radiation environment on orbit during multiple years of the TARANIS designed lifetime and they mitigate single event effects due to energetic particles.

The TARANIS satellite will be placed at a circular sun-synchronous orbit at 600 km altitude. Its scientific goal is the long-term search and complex study of the Transient Luminous Events (TLE) and Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGF) phenomena which demonstrate an impulsive energy transfer from the Earth’s atmosphere to the ionosphere usually in relation with thunderstorms. Multiple space projects have been devoted to the study of this topic already, but none of them provided such complex diagnostics as the TARANIS payload (coordinated measurements of electric and magnetic fields in a wide spectral range, photometers and high-speed cameras, a Langmuir probe for monitoring of ionospheric plasma, fast measurements of X-ray/gamma-ray, and energetic electrons fluxes). The satellite data will be supported by measurements from the extensive ground network, being further enlarged in the scope of the TARANIS project.

The Space Physics Laboratory of Charles University in Prague

The Space Physics Laboratory is oriented to experimental investigations of the space plasma and dust environment, design and development of space plasma instruments and diagnostic methods for solar wind, magnetospheric, and ionospheric international research projects. The research is predominantly focused on Sun-Earth relationships and space weather by studying parameters of plasma, charged particles, and waves mainly in the solar wind and its discontinuities (incl. interplanetary shocks), and related processes in the Earth‘s magnetosphere. Further research areas are laboratory simulations of dust charging in space and investigations of the turbulence and electromagnetic waves in the geospace.

What would you name as main benefits?

This project opened us a new topic of scientific research, direct membership in a big scientific and technological consortium, collaboration with new foreign and national scientific laboratories and industrial subjects as well as working experience with development of space instrumentation according to CNES-ESA standards, application of state-of-the-art technology in space instrument design and sharing know-how with international partners. From the very beginning of the instrument development we have been collaborating with Prof. Santolik’s team from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics Czech Academy of Sciences, which prepares another part of the TARANIS payload, the HF-A analyzer for analysis of high-frequency spectra of electric field in cooperation with the French space research laboratory LPC2E (Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l’Environnement et de l’Espace). Thanks to this project we were also invited to work on other forthcoming space projects.”