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CLUSTER PROJECT

After a quarter century of successful investigations with HEOS (Highly Eccentric Orbit Satellite) 1 and 2, GEOS (Geostationary Satellite), and ISEE (International Sun-Earth Explorer) 2, ESA's principal geophysics mission of the 1990's is the Cluster project, part of the first cornerstone of the Horizon 2000 program called the Solar/Terrestrial Science Program (STSP). Adopted in 1985, STSP includes both Cluster and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). As its name implies, Cluster consists of four identical, independent spacecraft which will study the physical interaction between the Sun and the Earth, specifically, boundary region physics, plasma acceleration in the geomagnetic tail, plasma turbulence, vortices and eddies, bow shock structure, and plasma and field microstructure. All four spacecraft are scheduled for launch on the maiden flight of Ariane 5 in 1995-1996.

Each spacecraft with a mass of 1,200 kg (54% propellant), a diameter of 2.9 m, and a height of 1.3 m will be deployed into a 90 degrees polar orbit with a perigee of 25,513 km (4 Earth radii) and an apogee of 140,318 km (22 Earth radii). The spacecraft will fly in a tetrahedral formation with intersatellite distances ranging from 200km in the cusp to 20,000 km in the magnetotail. Body-mounted solar cells will generate 224 W support a design life of two years for the spin-stabilized (15 rpm) spacecraft.

The 72-kg Cluster scientific payload includes eleven main instruments: Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Field Fluctuations (STAFF), Electric Fields and Waves (EFW), Waves of High Frequency and Sounder for Probing of Density by Relaxation (WHISPER), Wide Band Data (WBD), Digital Wave Processor (DWP), Fluxgate Magnetometer (FGM), Electronic Drift Instrument (EDI), Cluster Ion Spectrometry (CIS), Plasma Electron and Current Analyzer (PEACE), Research with Adaptive Particle Imaging Detectors (RAPID), and Active Spacecraft Potential Control (ASPOC). Cluster spacecraft undergo vibration testing in Ottobrun, Germany. Dornier is the prime contractor for Cluster with Alcatel, British Aerospace (now Matra Marconi), DASA, Fokker, and Contraves as major subcontractors (References 41-47).






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