The Institute of Space Science has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and officially joined the JEM-EUSO international collaboration, whose objective is the development of the first space mission dedicated to studying the nature of ultra-high energy cosmic rays and to identifying corresponding astrophysical sources. With this MoU, Romania becomes the 16th member state of the JEM-EUSO collaboration and will contribute to all the technical and scientific objectives of the mission.
The JEM-EUSO mission, which is scheduled for launch in late 2019 or early 2020, will consist of an Ultra Violet (UV) telescope dedicated to the observation from space of the UHECR EAS (ultra-high energy cosmic rays extensive air shower) produced in the Earth’s atmosphere, and will operate from the “Kibo” Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station.
Alongside the main mission, the JEM-EUSO collaboration presently runs two additional experiments, namely the EUSO-TA, which is a ground detector placed at the Telescope Array site and operating since 2015, and the EUSO-Balloon, whose first flight took place in 2014 and whose second flight is scheduled for 2016. Both experiments have been developed for technology testing, calibration, background measurements and instrument validation purposes. Furthermore, two more experiments are presently under development, namely the EUSO Super Pressure Balloon (EUSO-SPB), which is an ultra-long duration balloon flight scheduled for launch in 2017, and Mini-EUSO, which is a reduced scale version of the JEM-EUSO experiment operating inside the Russian “Zvezda” Service Module of the International Space Station, and which is scheduled for launch in 2018.
Finally, the JEM-EUSO collaboration intends to propose to ESA a free-flyer version of the JEM-EUSO experiment in response to the M5 medium sized missions call to be issued either later this year or early the next.
The RO-EUSO Consortium presently consists of the Institute of Space Science, whose team includes Dr. Ion Sorin Zgura, the Director of the Institute, Dr. Maria Haiduc, Dr. Aurelian Andrei Radu, Dr. Ana Caramete, Dr. Ionel Stan, Dr. Ioana Dutan, Dr. Octavian Micu, Mr. Laurentiu Caramete, Mr. Nicusor Arsene and Mr. Gabriel Chiritoi. The team is led by Dr. Eugeniu Mihnea Popescu, who is also the Consortium National Principal Investigator in the JEM-EUSO Collaboration. The participation of the Romanian Consortium in the Collaboration benefits of the full support of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA), and is currently in the process of applying for financial support through the European Space Agency (ESA) PRODEX Program.
The contribution of the Institute of Space Science team to the JEM-EUSO Collaboration is focused on several scientific and technological aspects of the mission. Referring to the former, the team will contribute to creating source catalogs, studying particle acceleration models in Active Galactic Nuclei, UHECR propagation simulations, hunting for Planck scale signatures and exotic physics. In relation to the latter, the team intends to contribute to the development of a ground-based system for the in-orbit calibration of the JEM-EUSO UV telescope and of the on-board calibration system, as well as to the development of the telescope’s new focal surface detector.
“The collaboration is very important to the Institute of Space Science, and especially to its future development. It not only allows the institute to capitalise on the scientific work and expertise of the RO-EUSO team members, but also provides it with direct access to cutting-edge space technology, and hence with the opportunity to develop technological capabilities that will strengthen its position and future status within the ESA and the international scientific communities.” said Dr. Eugeniu Mihnea Popescu, RO-EUSO Consortium National Principal Investigator. “I would like to use this opportunity to thank each and every one of my colleagues for their vital contributions”.
“Given the scientific and technological importance of this mission and its overall scientific beauty, as the Collaboration moves towards its final goal, I do hope that more partners will join the Romanian Consortium and be part of this exciting venture.” he added.
The JEM-EUSO experiment (Extreme Universe Space Observatory onboard Japanese Experiment Module) is the first space mission devoted to the scientific research of cosmic rays of highest energies. Its super-wide field-of-view telescope will look down to the Earth from the International Space Station to detect UV photons emitted from air showers generated by UHECR (Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays) in the atmosphere.
16 Countries, 80 Institutes and more than 300 researchers are involved in JEM-EUSO collaboration, with the support of the most important International and National Space Agencies and research funding institutions.
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