Engineers have pushed the four orbiting Cluster satellites into their closest configuration yet.


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Flying in formation: Engineers have pushed the four orbiting Cluster satellites into their closest configuration yet.

In an orbital reconfiguration that will help to maintain the mission’s life span, two of the four satellites achieved their closest-ever separation on 19 September, closing to within just 4 km of each other as they orbited at up to 23 000 km/h high above Earth. “We’re optimising the Cluster formation so that the separation between Cluster 1 and the duo of Cluster 3 and 4 – which are on almost identical orbits – is kept below 100 km when the formation crosses Earth’s magnetic equator,” says Detlef Sieg, working on Cluster flight dynamics at ESA’s ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

This close formation will provide scientists better data, as they are finding that the Earth’s magnetosphere is far more complex than expected.

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *