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
Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa
Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy