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ESA / Applications / Observing the Earth / Swarm

Full name: Swarm

Objectives: To offer a unique view inside Earth to study: core dynamics, geodynamo processes and core–mantle interaction; magnetism of the lithosphere and its geological context; 3D electrical conductivity of the mantle related to composition; magnetic signature related to ocean circulation. In addition, Swarm data will be used to study the Sun’s influence on Earth system by: analysing electric currents in magnetosphere and ionosphere; understanding the impact of solar wind on dynamics of the upper atmosphere.

Constellation: Three identical satellites launched together 

Instruments: Vector field magnetometer, absolute scalar magnetometer, electric field instrument, accelerometer, GPS receiver, startrackers and laser retroreflector

Size: Each satellite is 9.1 m long (including a 4-m deployable boom), 1.5 m wide and 0.85 m high

Mass: Each satellite weighs 473 kg at launch (including 106 kg of Freon propellant)

Power: GaAs solar cells, 48 Ah Li-ion batteries

Launched: 22 November 2013

Launch site: Plesetsk, Russia

Launcher: Rockot (with Breeze-KM upper stage)

Launch provider: Eurockot Launch Services GmbH

Orbit: Two satellites orbit side-by-side at an initial altitude of 460 km, decaying naturally to 300 km; the third satellite orbits at about 530 km

Mission control: ESA's European Satellite Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany

Ground Station: Science data downloaded to ESA’s ground station in Kiruna, Sweden 

Data: Processing, distribution and archiving managed by ESA's Centre for Earth Observation (ESRIN) in Frascati, Italy

Mission duration: Four years (plus three-month commissioning phase)

Project: Mission development and commissioning managed at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands

Prime Contractor:  Astrium GmbH (now Airbus Defence & Space)

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