Ultraviolet telescope developed by US, Belgian universities to be launched Thursday on Nasa satellite

Nasa’s ICON satellite is due to be launched on Thursday to study the interaction between the solar wind, the Earth’s magnetic field and the atmosphere.

The Liège Space Centre (CSL), part of the University of Liège (ULiège), participated in the design, development and calibration of the FUV ultraviolet telescope that was loaded onto the satellite, ULiège noted on Wednesday.

The satellite was developed by the Space Sciences Laboratory of the University of Berkeley in California, USA. It is to be launched from an orbital plane above the Pacific Ocean, ULiège explained.

The aim is to study the interaction of the solar wind – high energy particles given off by the sun as protons and electrons -, the Earth’s magnetic field, and the atmosphere of the Blue Planet. The researchers will examine their impact on the Earth’s weather, such as the effect they have on Monsoons in the Tropics or the way they disturb GPS and telecommunication systems.

A Far Ultra Violet (FUV) telescope designed, developed and calibrated by the CSL in collaboration with the University of Berkeley, is on board the satellite. The CSL has vacuum-tested it in a space environment.

“Mastering the entire development of the instrument in a vacuum, in a reconstituted space environment,” was a challenge for the ULiège teams, the Belgian university noted. It took three years of work to develop this instrument, it explained. The centre received financial support from Belgium’s Scientific Policy (Belspo) service.

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