ENAMISS – Energetic Neutral Atoms Monitor on the International Space Station (H2020)

ENAMISS – Energetic Neutral Atoms Monitor on the International Space Station (H2020) is a project co-funded by the EU in the framework of the H2020 SME INSTRUMENT program (Call: SPACE-SME-1-2014). Currently the project is covering the phase I which involves the elaboration of a detailed business plan verifying the technological/practical as well as economic viability of an innovation idea/concept with considerable novelty to the industry sector in which it is presented.

The consortium is composed by Kayser Italia as lead SME and AMDL (Rome) as partner SME; besides, a collaboration with the INAF-IAPS (Rome) research institute has been established as they act as scientific principal investigator, mostly in view of the phase II of the project.

The idea proposed by the consortium addresses the Space Weather science field aiming at a systematic monitoring of the geomagnetic activity in the inner magnetosphere (ring current regions) through detection of Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENA) originated by charge-exchange processes between the plasma coming from the solar wind and the cold gas of the Earth’s exosphere.

ENAs observations is a consolidated technique for remote sensing of plasma circulation, however up-to-now only dedicated missions in polar orbits collected ENA imaging, whereas continuous ENA monitoring from low altitudes is a missing task. 

The aim of the project is to develop an ENA instrument (namely ENAMISS) on board the International Space Station (ISS) since its peculiar orbit would allow wide-field ENA images, which means a discrimination between LaENA (Low altitude ENA) and HaENA (High altitude ENA). This will permit to define a new index related to Asymmetries of the ring current which could be easily compared to the Asym-H geomagnetic index. In this perspective, exploitation of the ISS as platform for ENA monitoring constitutes an innovation in the Space Weather field.

The idea is distributing this new geomagnetic index to the Space Weather science community and also to satellite operators since the ENA data would provide a real-time alerting parameter for safety of the Earth-orbiting satellites (geosyncronous satellites and many other scientific and commercial satellites) whose orbits pass through the magnetosphere and consequently can be affected by SEL, SEU, degradation of performance and solar panel malfunction.

The ENA data could be provided both as raw data and/or processed data correlated to information received by other existing alerting data networks. In this latter scenario, a future perspective is to implement an ad-hoc S/W main frame running dedicated science procedures to provide a complete alerting service.