Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Double Star mission extended

17.11.2006
Earlier this month, ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC) unanimously approved a nine-month extension of ESA's involvement in the China/ESA Double Star mission. Double Star is currently studying the Earth's magnetosphere - the natural protective shield surrounding our planet - and its interaction with the solar wind.

The two Double Star satellites were launched in December 2003 and July 2004 respectively – a schedule that enabled them to operate alongside ESA's Cluster mission. Since then, Double Star and the four Cluster satellites have been working together, making an unprecedented study of the Sun-Earth connection from six different viewpoints in space.

After a nominal mission of one year, Double Star had already been extended for further 17 months, following an SPC decision in May 2005. Double Star has helped to provide many new insights concerning the boundaries of the magnetosphere and the processes that play a role in the transportation of mass and energy.

Thanks to the complementarity of the Cluster and Double Star orbits, scientists are obtaining for the first time a global view of the structure and physical processes at work in Earth’s magnetic shield, with the Cluster tetrahedron studying these processes at small scales, and Double Star at large scales.

Just as an example, the two missions are studying in great detail areas where energetic particles from the Sun are blasting their way through the Earth's magnetic shield. Solar material penetrating the Earth's magnetic shield not only produces beautiful polar auroras, but can in fact also represent a hazard to both astronauts and satellites.

As another example, both missions also found out that the near-Earth space is 'fizzing'. Above our heads, where the Earth's magnetic field meets the constant stream of gas and particles from the Sun, thousands of bubbles of superheated gas are constantly growing and popping.

The main scientific reason to further extend the Double Star operations is to complete, in combination with Cluster, the magnetospheric monitoring during the dayside season. During the extension period, the orbital planes of the Double Star and Cluster flotillas – initially aligned – will be separated by 60º in 'azimuth', or local time, providing new satellite 'constellations' and viewpoints.

This new large separation will also enable the study on a global scale the effect of big solar events like large coronal mass ejections or high-speed solar winds streams on the magnetosphere. This in particular applies to the inner regions of the magnetosphere, where the Earth's radiation belt and the ring-current regions lie. In these regions, the amount of energetic particles can vary significantly, especially during solar storms, and again can cause damage to satellites and astronauts.

Last but not least, thanks to this extension Double Star, Cluster and new solar-terrestrial missions will greatly benefit from a unique synergy of objectives. NASA's recently launched STEREO satellites and the upcoming THEMIS five-spacecraft mission will soon make, together with the Cluster and Double Star satellites, a 13-satellite flotilla studying the interaction between the Sun and the near-Earth environment.

STEREO will look at the Sun’s explosive events such as Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and their propagation in the heliosphere (the sphere of influence of the Sun). Double Star will simultaneously look at the interactions of these CMEs with the regions called 'bow shock' and 'magnetopause'. THEMIS will study the origin of geomagnetic substorms. Cluster will continue its 3D characterisation of all these phenomena.

In this way, about half of the magnetosphere will be covered simultaneously by these missions – an absolute first in the history of space exploration.

Philippe Escoubet | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEML46TJJUE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts
28.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Researchers create artificial materials atom-by-atom
28.03.2017 | Aalto University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>