The Multi-needle Langmuir probe arrives at the ISS

EIDEL AS and the University of Oslo have reached a significant milestone with the successful launch to the ISS of the space weather instrument, the “Multi-Needle Langmuir Probe”. This collaborative effort has yielded a cutting-edge instrument that will advance space weather prediction as an in-orbit demonstrator on the International Space Station (ISS).

The m-NLP, designed to measure electron density in plasma, represents a major breakthrough in space instrumentation. Its precise data collection in the ionosphere promises valuable insights for enhancing space weather forecasting and understanding Earth’s ionosphere dynamics.

On August 2nd 2023 at 00:31:14 UTC, the m-NLP was launched aboard the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo space craft, mission NG-19, from Wallops Flight Facility. The success of this launch is a testament to the dedication and expertise of EIDEL and the University of Oslo, who have diligently developed the m-NLP for this momentous journey.

The launch of the NG-19 from Wallops Island with Antares 230+ rocket, last of it kind, was covered live by NASA. Image source: NASA Space Flight

Positioned as the first payload on the ISS Bartolomeo platform, provided by AIRBUS, the m-NLP will undergo rigorous testing and validation in the space environment. This remarkable opportunity showcases the instrument’s capabilities and its potential contributions to space weather prediction.

“We are incredibly proud of this achievement, which stands as a testament to the dedication of our engineers at EIDEL and the scientific prowess of UiO. The Multi-Needle Langmuir Probe represents a significant step forward in advancing space exploration and scientific research,” says Truls O. Andersen, CEO of EIDEL.

This achievement highlights the ingenuity and dedication of EIDEL and the University of Oslo. Together, and with support from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Norwegian Space Agency we have developed an instrument with the potential to redefine space weather prediction, benefiting satellite operations and space missions worldwide.

“As the project manager at EIDEL AS for the “m-NLP on the ISS” payload, it has been a pleasure to work together with the University of Oslo, the European Space Agency and Airbus Defence and Space on designing, building and testing the m-NLP payload. Without this vast collaborative effort, this achievement would not have been possible”, says Tore André Bekkeng, m-NLP Project Manager at EIDEL.

On August 4th, 10:30 CEST, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus rendezvoused with the International Space Station (ISS), marking a crucial moment in the m-NLP’s journey. This exciting event further highlights the significance of this collaborative achievement as the m-NLP prepares to commence its scientific expedition in the challenging environment of space.

Live coverage on NASA LIVE of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus NG-19 spacecraft successfull rendevouz and docking to the ISS on August 4th 2023, approximately 12:00 CEST. The Cygnus brings supplies to the astonauts and scientifc payloads to be testet in low earth orbit and micro gravity. Image source: NASA Live.

As the m-NLP embarks on its scientific mission, the ISS Bartolomeo platform will provide an ideal environment for testing and validating its capabilities. The world eagerly awaits the invaluable data the m-NLP will provide, unlocking new horizons in space weather prediction and advancing our understanding of the cosmos.

Read more about the effetcts space weather has on the space assets and terrestial infrastructure on ESA’s web pages: ESA – Space weather effects

In Europe’s economy today, numerous sectors can be affected by space weather. Image source: ESA