The Cluster Spacecraft Experiments

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Three times as many satellites

About Cluster:

The Bad News:
37 seconds after lift-off at a height of 3500 m, the Ariane 5 launcher carrying CLUSTER exploded. All of the Cluster spacecraft were lost.

The Good News:
10 months after the loss of the 4 Cluster spacecrafts, the ESA Science Program Committee approved in their meeting on 3/4/96 the re-build of 3 new spacecrafts. Together with the "Phoenix" satellite (which is being built), they will form the original full space fleet of 4 spacecrafts, expected to be launched by the mid of year 2000.

Cluster is to be launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) program. It will consist of four identical spacecraft flying in close formation. This unqiue formation will allow structures of the magnetosphere to be properly resolved for the first time. Previous single point spacecraft measurements often have difficulty in determining whether observed variations are in space or in time.

Additional details about the Cluster mission are available from ESA and NASA/Goddard.

About the Cluster Ion Spectrometre:

The UW Space Physics group is involved with the Ionic Composition Spectrometer that will be able to measure the particle distributions of ions of both ionospheric and solar wind origin.

Who's Doing It:

Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences Homepage
Updated Nov 2011