CSL partner ICON satellite launched by NASA
The Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL) designed, developed and calibrated the FUV (Far Ultra Violet) ultraviolet telescope. Objective: to study the interactions between solar wind, terrestrial magnetic field and atmosphere and their impact on meteorology
On the night of October 10-11, 2019, the ICON (NASA) satellite developed by the Space Science Laboratory at the University of Berkeley (California) in collaboration with the Space Center of the University of Liège was launched with a Pegasus XL rocket from Northrop Grumman Group over the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket was dropped from a Stargazer aircraft. Following the aborted launch last year, it was postponed for almost a year due to technical problems with the rocket. Northrop Grumman Group's engineers therefore worked an additional year to solve the rocket guidance problems.
The ICON mission will study the interaction between the solar wind (high-energy particles sent by the sun as protons and electrons), the Earth's magnetic field and the atmosphere. It will focus mainly on the impact of this interaction on terrestrial meteorology: phenomena that influence monsoons in the tropics, in particular, or that disrupt GPS and telecommunications systems.
The Centre Spatial de Liège (ULiège) made an important contribution to the mission since, among the on-board instruments, is the FUV (Far Ultra Violet) ultraviolet telescope designed, developed and calibrated by the Liège teams in close collaboration with the University of Berkeley. Their challenge: to control the entire development of the instrument under vacuum, in a reconstituted space environment (alignment, calibration and characterization).
This expertise, once again recognized by NASA, with which the Centre Spatial de Liège has collaborated on several occasions, has required three years of work and has obtained financial support from BELSPO (Belgian Federal Scientific Policy). In addition, the CSL hopes to continue to receive support from BELSPO in the future for its participation in NASA projects. These are strategic for the University of Liège and are part of the DNA of space research at CSL.
This project is a success due to the nature of the technical and scientific challenges encountered throughout the program as well as the fruitful and effective collaboration between the two teams.
Pr Jérôme LOICQ,
ICON Project Manager at the Centre Spatial de Liège, Professor at the School of Engineering, ULiège
Photos ©NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Duberstein