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ESA, Airbus Book Payload for ISS Bartolomeo Platform

By | January 24, 2020
Artist rendition of Bartolomeo platform on the International Space Station.

Artist rendition of Bartolomeo platform on the International Space Station. Photo: Airbus

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus have signed a contract booking a Norwegian instrument for the Bartolomeo platform on the International Space Station (ISS), which is scheduled for launch in March 2020. The payload slot for the Norwegian instrument will monitor plasma density in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Bartolomeo platform, which is named after Christopher Columbus’ younger brother, is currently in the final stage of launch preparation at Airbus in Bremen, Germany. Bartolomeo is developed on a commercial basis by Airbus using its own investment funds and will be operated in cooperation with ESA. The platform can accommodate up to 12 different experiment modules, supplying them with power and providing data transmission to Earth.

The Multi-Needle Langmuir Probe (m-NLP) is an instrument from the University of Oslo and the Norwegian company Eidsvoll Electronics to measure ionospheric plasma densities.The m-NLP is currently the only instrument in the world capable of resolving ionospheric plasma density variations at spatial scales below one meter. The mission is financed through the ESA PRODEX program and supported by ESA’s Directorate Human & Robotic Exploration. The payload is scheduled to launch on ISS resupply flight NG-14 in October 2020 and will be the first payload to be installed on the Bartolomeo Platform outside the European Columbus Module.