mission overview & Timeline of the Regions CRossed

Artist impression of the Cluster quartet over the northern cusp.Cluster is the first constellation of four spacecraft flying in formation around Earth.

Since 2000, they relay the most detailed information  about how the solar wind affects our planet in three dimensions. The solar wind (the perpetual stream of subatomic particles expelled by the Sun) can damage communications satellites and power stations on Earth.

Science output from Cluster is a leap forward in our knowledge of space plasma physics, science behind space weather and the Sun-Earth connection. It has been key in improving the modelling of the magnetosphere and understanding its various physical processes. 

Cluster and Double Star data have enabled the publication of more than 2900 publications, including more than 2500 refereed papers and 100 PhD, and counting.

 For more information on the Cluster project visit

  • The ESA in depth science website on the Cluster mission: link here
  • Wikipedia page: link here

Timeline of the regions crossed

Various separations of the Cluster satellites constellation have been performed to target the numerous scientific objectives of the mission. Please find below a timeline of these separations together with their main targeted space regions (see also http://sci.esa.int/cluster/23160-constellation-geometry-over-time/).

List of electric field (EFW) internal burst modes since launch: here.

 
 
Date Description
01-02-01 Mission Commissioning Results Review (MCRR)
01-02-01 Start of Routine operations for minimum 24 months
01-02-01 1st central Polar cusp crossing
(600 km separation)
01-08-01 1st central Magnetotail crossing
(2000 km separation)
02-02-02 2nd central Polar cusp crossing
(100 km separation)
02-08-02 2nd central Magnetotail crossing
(4000 km separation)
01-06-02 Start of full orbit coverage
01-02-03 3rd central Polar cusp crossing
(5000 km separation)
02-08-03 3rd central Magnetotail crossing
(200 km separation)
01-02-04 4th central Polar cusp crossing
(300 km separation)
02-08-04 4th central Magnetotail crossing
(1000 km separation)
01-02-05 5th central Polar cusp crossing
(1300 km separation)
02-08-05 5th central Magnetotail crossing
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=10 000 km; C3,C4=1000 km)
01-02-06 6th central Polar cusp crossing
(10 000 km tetrahedron)
02-08-06 6th central Magnetotail crossing
(10 000 km tetrahedron)
01-02-07 7th central Polar cusp crossing
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=10 000 km // bow shock; C3,C4=450 km perpendicular to bow shock)
02-08-07 7th central Magnetotail crossing
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=10 000 km; C3,C4=40 km)
01-02-08 8th central Polar cusp crossing
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=10 000 km // magnetopause/bow shock; C3,C4=40 km perpendicular to magnetopause/bow shock)
01-05-08 C3 spacecraft tilt by 40° during one month
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=10 000 km; C3,C4=40 km)
02-08-08 8th central Magnetotail crossing
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=10 000 km; C3,C4=3000 km)
01-02-09 9th central Polar cusp crossing
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=10 000 km; C3,C4 first at 10 000 km for solar wind and then at 1000 km for auroral acceleration)
01-05-09 1st Auroral acceleration crossing
(1000 km separation)
02-08-09 9th central Magnetotail crossing
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=10 000 km; C3,C4=500 km)
01-12-09 2nd Auroral acceleration crossing
(1000 km separation)
01-08-10 10th Magnetotail crossing
(5000 km separation)
01-02-11 Solar wind crossing
(5000 km separation)
02-04-11 GI - High latitude energetic electrons
01-06-11 Solar wind crossing
(5000 km tetrahedron)
01-10-11 Auroral acceleration region
01-02-12 GI - Solar wind turbulence
01-05-12 GI - Magnetopause multi-scale
01-07-12 GI - Tail flow braking multi-scale
01-11-12 GI - Large scale flank waves configuration
01-01-13  GI - Flux transfer events
01-05-13 Auroral acceleration region
01-08-13 Inner magnetosphere
(small scale triangle C1,C3,C4 ~10-100 km)
01-11-13 GI - Cusp
01-03-14 Ring current with Swarm
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=3000 km; C3,C4=800 km)
01-08-14 Near plasmasheet
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=7000 km; C3,C4=300 km)
01-12-14 GI - Cusp repeat
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=2000 km; C3,C4=1000 km)
01-01-15 Bow shock small scales
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=4000 km; C3,C4=6 km)
01-02-15 GI - Turbulence
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=4000 km; C3,C4=6 km)
01-03-15 GI - Thrusters
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=4000 km; C3,C4=1000 km)
01-06-15 GI - Ring current with Swarm
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=4000 km; C3,C4=1500 km)
01-08-15 Tail
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=4000 km; C3,C4=500 km)
01-12-15 GI - Cusp different local time
(multi-scales: C1,C2,C3=30000 km; C3,C4=1000 km)
01-01-16 GI bow shock 3 km
(multi-scales: largest=22000 km, smallest= 3 km)
01-02-16 GI solar wind reconnection
(multi-scales: largest=20000 km, smallest= 100 km)
01-04-16 GI bow shock structures
(multi-scales: largest=23000 km, smallest= 4000 km)
01-06-16 GI KH waves on dawn flank
(multi-scales: largest=27000 km, smallest= 5000 km)
01-08-16 Tail
(multi-scales: largest=7000 km, smallest= 200 km)
01-12-16 Magnetopause
(tetrahedron: 3700 km)
01-04-17 Magnetopause
(tetrahedron: 3700 km)
01-08-17 Tail
(multi-scales: largest=7000 km, smallest= 1000 km)
01-12-18 Exterior cusp diff. local time
(multi-scales: largest=22000 km, smallest= 6000 km)
01-02-18 Jet breaking region at perigee
(multi-scales: largest=12500 km, smallest= 2500 km)