KTH / EE / Space and Plasma Physics / Research Tools / Spacecraft


Cluster is a European Space Agency (ESA) project comprising four satellites to study Earth's magnetosphere and its boundary layers. The spacecraft were first launched from Kourou on 4 June 1996 on the first flight of the new Ariane 5 launch vehicle, but the launch was not successful and the four spacecraft were lost. ESA decided to build four identical replacements, which were launched in pairs on Soyuz launchers from Baikonur on 16 July and 9 August 2000.

The orbit is 4 by 20 Earth radii with an inclination of 90 degrees, and the spacecraft fly in formation with separation distances ranging from 100 to 10000 km. The scientific objectives are to study the fine-structure of and small-scale phenomena in magnetospheric boundary layers, in particular the polar cusp and the magnetopause.

KTH is responsible for part of the analogue electronics for the electric fields and waves instrument (EFW), and for setting up and operating the Scandinavian Data Centre which is part of the Cluster Science Data System.

Operations are ongoing since February 2001. Thanks to the large success of the mission with almost all instruments still operating and a continued high scientific publication rate, ESA has extended the original 2-year mission several times - it is now planned to end in 2009. The KTH group has a leading scientific role in the areas of auroral particle acceleration, ULF pulsations, and ionospheric convection, but has also contributed significantly to many other topics as can be seen in the publication list.

We have authored or co-authored a number of Cluster related publications.

Cluster instruments:

  • ASPOC, Active Spacecraft Potential Control
  • CIS, Cluster Ion Spectrometry
  • DWP, Digital Wave Processor, part of WEC
  • EDI, Electron Drift Instrument
  • EFW, Electric Fields and Waves, part of WEC
  • FGM, Fluxgate Magnetometer
  • PEACE, Plasma Electron And Current Experiment
  • RAPID, Research with Adaptive Particle Imaging Detectors
  • STAFF, Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Field Fluctuations, part of WEC
  • WBD, Wideband Data, part of WEC
  • WHISPER, Waves of High Frequency and Sounder for Probing of Electron Density by Relaxation, part of WEC
  • WEC, Wave Experiment Consortium

Access to data (see also the individual instrument pages above):

Planning and commanding information:

For more information contact Per-Arne Lindqvist.

Published by: School of Electrical Engineering

Last updated: 2013-06-18