As this project was closed at MPE in 2008, only the publication list is still maintained.


On 26.10.2006 00:52 UT the NASA Mission STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) was successfully launched with a Delta-II rocket at Cape Caneveral in Florida / USA. The mission consists of two almost identical spacecraft that are first injected into an orbit around the Earth - Moon system. After the 2 months commissioning phase the spacecraft use a close lunar swing-by to achieve the final orbit around the sun. The heliocentric orbits are such that the distance in heliolongitude increases by 45° per year. This provides for the first time observations of active regions at the Sun and of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from different viewing directions, i.e. a stereoscopic view, and thus allows the reconstruction of 3D images.

MPE participates in the PLASTIC (PLAsma and SupraThermal Ion Composition) experiment that was developed in an international collaboration under the lead of the Space Science Department of the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Durham, USA (PI A. B. Galvin). PLASTIC is the primary sensor for the determination of the solar wind parameters density, velocity and temperature, and provides elemental and ionic charge composition of the solar wind and of suprathermal particles up to 80 keV/e.

(October 26, 2006)

Cluster will become the first multi-scale mission

On 10 February 2005, the ESA Science Programme Committee approved unanimously the extension of the Cluster mission, pushing back the end date from December 2005 to December 2009.
This extension will allow the first measurements of space plasmas at both small and large scales simultaneously and the sampling of geospace regions never crossed before by four spacecraft flying in close formation.

(March 4, 2005)

Double Star - East Meets West in Near-Earth Space

Since their dual launches in July and August 2000, ESA's four Cluster spacecraft have been flying in formation around the Earth, sending back the first detailed, three-dimensional information about the magnetosphere and its interaction with the solar wind.

This unique examination of the magnetic bubble that surrounds our planet is about to be enhanced still further as the result of Double Star, a groundbreaking collaboration involving ESA and the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA).

The Double Star programme involves the launches of two satellites. The first was placed in an equatorial orbit (570 x 78970 km) on 29 December 2003 and the second was placed into a polar orbit (690 x 38230 km) on 25 July 2004 - each carrying experiments provided by European and Chinese institutes. This will enable scientists to analyze data sent back simultaneously from no fewer than six spacecraft, each located in a different region of near-Earth space. The simultaneous, six-point study should provide new insights into the mysterious mechanisms that trigger magnetic storms and brilliant auroral displays in polar skies.

(November 2004)

Highlights from 8th Cluster Workshop

One hundred and thirty space scientists from around the globe gathered to discuss the most recent scientific achievements, the goals of the Cluster mission, and chart out the next phase of the mission.
Cluster is a four spacecraft mission, carrying 11 identical instruments on each spacecraft, designed to study the Earth's magnetic field or "magnetosphere" and the plasma environment in the near Earth region. This mission, in orbit since the summer of 2000, allows, for the first time, three-dimensional measurements of key regions of space surrounding the Earth. Because of the great success of the mission, an extension to at least 2007 is being discussed.

(October 2004)

ESA's Cluster solves auroral puzzle

ESA's four Cluster spacecraft have made a remarkable set of observations that has led to a breakthrough in understanding the origin of a peculiar and puzzling type of aurora.

[ more ]

ESA press release 31/2002

(May 2003)

Linking the Earth's climate with the Sun

Our climate has shown considerable natural variability over the course of centuries and millennia. Between the 9th and 14th century, our planet experienced the Mediaeval Warm Period. During this time, the global temperature average was higher than at present by about 1°C. Tree-ring data show that this was not a result of a natural rise in carbon dioxide, so the Sun's variability is the main suspect.

[ more ]

(August 2002)

Equator-S and Geotail find long sought plasma process

Magnetic Reconnection is a process that converts magnetic energy into kinetic energy of plasma jets. It also provides access of one cosmic plasma to another one, e. g. at the interface of a stellar wind or accretion disk with the magnetic field of a neighbouring star. Such a situation exists between the solar wind and the Earth's magnetosphere. Reconnection of the respective magnetic fields does not only allow entry of solar wind plasma into the Earth's field, but by stretching it into the long magnetic tail it pumps energy into the Earth's system and is so responsible for magnetic storms, aurora, radiation belts and their variations, in short, for the space weather.

Press release

T.D. Phan et al, Nature 404, 848-850 (2000)

(April 2000)

back to top of page


Go to Editor View