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 Protecting the power grid: Advanced plasma switch for more efficient transmission
17.08.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab
15.08.2018 | American Institute of Physics

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: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Quantum material is promising 'ion conductor' for research, new technologies

17.08.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>