The Swedish satellite project Prisma, launched from Russia in June 2010, consisted of two satellites aimed at demonstrating new technologies for accurate formation flights and automatic docking, that is, spacecraft that can communicate and interact with each other with high precision.
On board was the ion mass analyzer PRIMA (PRIsma Mass Analyzer), a collaboration between IRF, with Martin Wieser as Principal Investigator, and Chalmers University of Technology. PRIMA used revolutionary micromechanics to measure the mass of particles in space. T
The flight of PRIMA qualified several new technologies for use in space, including:
- new micro-shutters based on MEMS technology (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) that can be used to construct ultra-light mass spectrometers for space use.
- an ultra-low power electrostatic gating system that can be used alternatively to generate start signals for time-of-flight measurements.
- a new type of opto-coupler design used in high voltage power supplies.
- new types of surface coatings and general use of commercial components.
We also tested the sensitivity of the sensor to high energetic electron radiation when the spacecraft passed through the Earth’s radiation belt.
The Prisma project was funded mainly by the Swedish National Space Agency with contributions from the space authorities DLR in Germany and CNES in France. The main supplier of the satellites was the Swedish Space Corporation, SSC.
Photo credits: Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) or Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), as indicated.