Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA THEMIS mission adds five spacecraft to the Sun-Earth flotilla

19.02.2007
Tonight NASA plans to launch its five THEMIS scientific satellites onboard a Delta-2 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida USA, to join the spacefleet of Sun-Earth connection explorers – four from the ESA Cluster mission and two from the CNSA/ESA Double Star mission.

The main scientific objective of THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) is to find what triggers magnetic substorms. This phenomenon corresponds to periods of time during which violent changes happen within the Earth's magnetic environment or magnetosphere.

It is triggered at distances from one tenth to half the Earth-Moon distance on the nightside of Earth and hurls energetic particles towards our planet. These particles are responsible for the very bright and colourful auroras and are usually harmless. However, when the Sun unleashes massive clouds of charged particles towards Earth, a series of 10 or more substorms can occur in rapid succession. Such a series may be responsible for the failure of power grids and satellites observed during some of these events.

Six plus five equals eleven

Cluster is the first space mission composed of four satellites flying in formation to study the Sun-Earth connection. Launched in 2000, this mission, originally planned for two years, has been extended to the end of 2009. It was joined in 2003 by the first Double Star spacecraft named TC-1 and in 2004 by TC-2, both partially equipped with spare instruments of the Cluster satellites. Double Star is the first Chinese scientific space mission in the Earth's magnetosphere.

The THEMIS satellites will be highly complementary to the Cluster and Double Star ones since they will monitor opposite regions of the magnetosphere with respect to Earth. For example, during winter season 2007/2008, while THEMIS will be in the magnetotail (nightside) studying the source region of the substorms, the Cluster mission will spend a significant part of its orbit around Earth in the solar wind (dayside) and cross the auroral region at mid-altitude. The apogee of TC-1 is located approximately in between. For the first time, about half of the magnetosphere and its environment will be monitored simultaneously by state-of the-art scientific instrumentation, thanks to these three missions.

European involvement

THEMIS is the fifth medium–class mission selected by NASA under its Explorer Program with Professor Vassilis Angelopoulos (Space Science Laboratory of UC Berkeley, USA) as Principal Investigator of the mission. Each THEMIS satellite carries an identical set of five scientific instruments. The development of two of these instruments was done in close collaboration between American and European institutes from Austria, France and Germany. Part of the electronics of these instruments has been manufactured in Europe. Several European research institutes will take an active part in the scientific exploitation of these future measurements. Such a deep scientific collaboration is not a first. It is built on years of fruitful collaboration such as that on Cluster where discoveries have been made thanks to active collaboration between researchers from both sides of the Atlantic.

"This is the first time in history of Space Physics that such a high number of scientific satellites are in operation simultaneously. It represents an unprecedented opportunity to study the global solar-magnetospheric environment and the physical processes involved. We wish all the best to our American colleagues for a successful launch", says ESA's Philippe Escoubet, Double Star and Cluster project scientist. For more information on the Sun-Earth explorers, contact:

Philippe Escoubet
ESA Cluster Project Scientist
Email: philippe.escoubet @ esa.int

Philippe Escoubet | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM6YRO2UXE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms
25.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>