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PROBA2 is the second of ESA's 'PRoject for OnBoard Autonomy' spacecraft, part of ESA's in-orbit Technology Demonstration Programme. Launched on 2 November 2009, the PROBA2 spacecraft carries a number of technology demonstrators as well as four scientific experiments that address topics in solar science and space weather.

The two solar observation experiments are:

  • LYRA, a Large Yield RAdiometer that monitors four selected ultraviolet bands: the Lyman-alpha line at 121.6 nm, the 200-220 nm Herzberg continuum range, the 17-80 nm aluminium filter range and the 6-20 nm zirconium filter range. LYRA was designed, manufactured and calibrated by a Belgian-Swiss-German consortium, with the Royal Observatory of Belgium as the principal investigator, PMOD/WRC as lead co-investigator, and Centre Spatial de Liège as project manager. Marie Dominique, from the Royal Observatory of Belgium, is the Principal Investigator of LYRA.

  • SWAP (Sun Watcher using APS detectors and image Processing), an extreme-ultraviolet telescope using new pixel sensor technology (APS), that measures the solar corona in a very narrow band centred at 17.4 nm. SWAP was developed by the Centre Spatial de Liège, supported by the Royal Observatory of Belgium and an industrial team from Belgium. David Berghmans, from the Royal Observatory of Belgium, is the Principal Investigator of SWAP.

The two space weather experiments are:

  • Dual Segmented Langmuir Probes (DSLP), which measures electron density and temperature in the background plasma of the Earth's magnetosphere, and

  • a Thermal Plasma Measurement Unit (TPMU), that measures ion densities and composition.

Both of these space weather experiments were developed by a Czech consortium, led by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (CZ).

These four experiments were selected in mid-2002 following an open Announcement of Opportunity from ESA to the scientific community. In mid-2006, the two solar observation experiments, SWAP and LYRA, along with the associated ground and science segments, were adopted within the ESA Science Programme in the frame of the Nationally-Led Missions programme.

Access to near real time data

The PROBA-2 Science Centre (P2SC) operates the two main scientific instruments, SWAP and LYRA, from the Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels. Since the 'first light' of SWAP (on 14 December 2009) and LYRA (6 January 2010), both instruments have delivered a stream of high-quality data which, along with ancillary data products, are available in near real time for scientific analysis. All data are distributed via the PROBA-2 Science Centre web pages within hours of each downlink pass.

Guest investigators and combined campaigns

Both SWAP and LYRA operate a guest investigator programme that provides support for successful proposers to spend time with the SWAP and/or LYRA teams in order to develop expertise with the instruments and to perform original research. In addition, dedicated observation campaigns can be arranged by contacting the Principal Investigators directly.

Mission Lifetime

The PROBA-2 nominal mission was planned for two years and was completed in October 2011. Since then, approval for extending the mission has been granted by ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC) on several occasions, as part of a review of science missions carried out on a rolling two-year schedule, with the most recent being approval until December 2018, subject to a mid-term review in 2016.

A study carried out in early 2010 confirmed the orbital suitability of the spacecraft until at least 2019. To date, all mission and science critical systems and subsystems work nominally, thus there are no technological constraints on the mission duration.


Last Update: 18 December 2014

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