Cluster fly in a triangular pyramid formation
Science & Exploration

Spacecraft

16/07/2010 946 views 3 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Space Science / Cluster

The name Cluster was chosen because of the way the four spacecraft fly in a group around Earth. When studies demonstrated that it would be possible to reuse some parts and to fly four spacecraft almost identical to those lost in the first launch, the replacement mission was initially named Cluster II, but now it is generally referred to as Cluster. Flying in a tetrahedral (triangular pyramid) formation, the four spacecraft are collecting the most detailed data yet on small-scale changes in near-Earth space, and the interaction between the charged particles of the solar wind and Earth's atmosphere. These enable scientists to build a three-dimensional model of the magnetosphere and to better understand the processes taking place inside it.

 

Diameter 2.9 m
Height 1.3 m
Mass 1200 kg
(of which) Propellant 650 kg
(of which) Scientific payload 71 kg
Spin rate 15 rpm
Launch date 16 July, 9 August 2000
2 spacecraft per launch
Operational lifetime 2 years (nominal)
extended to 2005, then to 2009, and then 2012

Orbit

Cluster rounds Earth in an elliptical polar orbit. The closest it comes to Earth is a few hundred kilometres. The furthest is 125 000 km. The time to complete a single orbit is 54 hours 35 minutes.

Instruments

Each of the four spacecraft carries an identical set of 11 instruments to investigate charged particles, electrical and magnetic fields. These were built by European and American instrument teams led by Principal Investigators.

Operations

Spacecraft operations centre: European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), Germany.

Ground stations: Villafranca and Maspalomas, Spain; Perth, Australia; Panska Ves, Czech Republic; along with NASA DSN and other ESA ESTRACK stations.

Science operations centre: Joint Science Operations Centre at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot, UK.

Related Links

Science & Exploration

Cluster overview

01/01/1970 11064 views
Open item
Science & Exploration

Double Star overview

01/01/1970 3572 views
Open item
Science & Exploration

SOHO overview

01/01/1970 21885 views
Open item
Science & Exploration

Solar Orbiter overview

01/01/1970 40555 views
Open item
Cluster probes the mysteries of the black aurora
Science & Exploration

Space weather

2133 views 4 likes
Open item
Ceremony for the International Academy of Astronautics Laurels 2010
Science & Exploration

Laurels for Cluster-Double Star teams

28/09/2010 1240 views 2 likes
Open item
The Cluster quartet
Science & Exploration

Cluster turns the invisible into the visible

01/09/2010 1247 views 3 likes
Open item
The four Cluster spacecraft
Agency

Cluster's decade of discovery

16/07/2010 1572 views 2 likes
Open item
Science & Exploration

Shocking recipe for making killer electrons

11/03/2010 1340 views 1 likes
Open item
Effect of extreme solar activity on Earth's magnetosphere
Science & Exploration

Watching solar activity muddle Earth’s magnetic field

29/04/2009 3533 views 1 likes
Open item
Mars Express
Science & Exploration

ESA extends missions studying Mars, Venus and Earth’s magne…

10/02/2009 1630 views 0 likes
Open item
Earth's oxygen escaping from Earth's polar regions
Science & Exploration

Cluster watches Earth’s leaky atmosphere

28/08/2008 2720 views 3 likes
Open item
Cluster II
Science & Exploration

Cluster listens to the sounds of Earth

27/06/2008 1639 views 1 likes
Open item
The Cluster quartet
Science & Exploration

Solitary waves in translation

07/03/2008 692 views 0 likes
Open item
Cluster observing the electron diffusion region
Science & Exploration

New discovery on magnetic reconnection to impact future spa…

23/01/2008 1443 views 1 likes
Open item
Schematic of Earth’s night-side magnetosphere
Science & Exploration

High-speed beams of charged particles accelerate towards Ea…

06/12/2007 2670 views 5 likes
Open item
CME observed by SOHO
Science & Exploration

Solar outburst pulls a magnetic slingshot

21/11/2007 905 views 1 likes
Open item