Credit: ESA/NASA

The Cluster mission of the European Space Agency is part of the Solar-Terrestrial Science Programme. After an unsuccessful launch in 1996, the four reconstructed Cluster spacecraft were launched in pairs on two Soyuz rockets in July and August 2000. For the first time in space research, the four identically equipped spacecraft were able to obtain a three-dimensional picture of plasma structures, to separate spatial and temporal features, and to derive physical quantities never measured before.
With eleven instruments aboard each spacecraft [Escoubet et al., 2001], the four-probe formed a tetrahedron and the polar orbit crossed different regions of the magnetosphere including the polar cusp region, the magnetosheath, the foreshock, the bow shock, and the magnetotail. The spacecraft separation was regularly changed during the mission to match the scientific objectives in the different plasma regions. In the first six years of the mission, this enabled measurements in 3D (with spacecraft formation close to a regular tetrahedron’s shape) at various scales from 100 - 10,000 km.
Since 2007 the spacecraft are not kept in the original polar orbit (perigee 4 RE, apogee 19.6 RE), but they are allowed to drift due to Sun-Moon gravitational perturbations in order to save propellant. The change of apogee inclination along with the change of perigee altitude and the evolution of the orbital plane enabled the investigation of further regions of the terrestrial plasma environment which were not surveyed earlier. A multi-scale approach was often applied to sample plasma processes with three spacecraft separated by ~7000 - 10,000 km and the fourth spacecraft positioned at a distance of 5 - 10,000 km from this plane. In years 2021-2022, Cluster is in the eighth mission extension while ten instruments are still collecting data aboard at least two spacecraft.
The researchers of the Department of Space Physics and Space Technology are Co-Is of the Fluxgate Magnetometer (FGM) team [Balogh et al., 1997] and of the Research with Adaptive Particle Imaging Detectors (RAPID) team [Wilken et al., 1997]. The Department maintains the Hungarian Data Centre which is producing the auxiliary parameters of the Cluster Science Data System [Schmidt et al., 1997]. Since 2014 the CSDS is part of the Cluster Science Archive which is providing open access to high quality, validated, high-resolution data from the Cluster instruments together with auxiliary data and software tools. The Hungarian Data Centre is financially supported by ESA.

Balogh, A., Dunlop, M.W., Cowley, S.W.H., Southwood, D.J., Thomlinson, J.G., Glassmeier, K.H., Musmann, G.; Luhr, H., Buchert, S., Acuna, M. H., Fairfield, D. H., Slavin, J. A., Riedler, W., Schwingenschuh, K., Kivelson, M. G., 1997, The Cluster Magnetic Field Investigation, Space Science Reviews, 79, 65. doi:10.1023/A:1004970907748.
Escoubet, C.P., Fehringer, M., and Goldstein, M., 2001, The Cluster mission, Annales Geophysicae, 19, 1197. doi:10.5194/angeo-19-1197-2001.
Schmidt, R., Escoubet, C.P., and Schwartz, S.J., 1997, The Cluster Science Data System (csds) - a New Approach to the Distribution of Scientific Data, Space Science Reviews, 79, 557. doi:10.1023/A:1004958605022.
Wilken, B., Axford, W. I., Daglis, I., Daly, P., Guttler, W., Ip, W. H., Korth, A., Kremser, G., Livi, S., Vasyliunas, V. M., Woch, J., Baker, D., Belian, R. D., Blake, J. B., Fennell, J. F., Lyons, L. R., Borg, H., Fritz, T. A., Gliem, F., Rathje, R. Grande, M., Hall, D., Kecskemety, K., McKenna-Lawlor, S., Mursula, K., Tanskanen, P., Pu, Z., Sandahl, I., Sarris, E. T., Scholer, M., Schulz, M., Sorass, F., Ullaland, S., 1997. RAPID - The Imaging Energetic Particle Spectrometer on Cluster, Space Science Reviews 79, 399–473. doi:10.1023/A:1004994202296

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  • Facskó, G., Honkonen, I., Zivkovic, T., Palin, L., Kallio, E., Agren, K., Opgenoorth, H., Tanskanen, E. I., Milan, S., One year in the Earth's magnetosphere: A global MHD simulation and spacecraft measurements, Space Weather, 14, 351, 2016, doi:10.1002/2015SW001355.
  • Palin, L., Opgenoorth, H.J., Agren, K., Zivkovic, T., Sergeev, V.A., Kubyshkina, M.V., Nikolaev, A., Kauristie, K., van de Kamp, M., Amm, O., Milan, S. E., Imber, S. M., Facskó, G., Palmroth, M., and Nakamura, R., Modulation of the substorm current wedge by bursty bulk flows: 8 September 2002—Revisited, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 121, 4466, 2016, doi:10.1002/2015JA022262.
  • Gou, X.C., Shi, Q.Q., Tian, A.M., Sun, W.J., Dunlop, M.W., Fu, S.Y., Zong, Q. G., Facskó, G., Nowada, M., Pu, Z. Y., Mailyan, B., Xiao, T., Shen, X. C., Solar wind plasma entry observed by cluster in the high-latitude magnetospheric lobes, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 121, 4135, 2016, doi:10.1002/2015JA021578.
  • Vörös, Z., Facskó, G., Khodachenko, M., Honkonen, I., Janhunen, P., and Palmroth, M., Windsock memory COnditioned RAM (CO-RAM) pressure effect: Forced reconnection in the Earth's magnetotail, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 119, 6273, 2014, doi:10.1002/2014JA019857.
  • Blagau, A., Dandouras, I., Barthe, A., Brunato, S., Facskó, G., and Constantinescu, V., In-flight calibration of the Hot Ion Analyser on board Cluster, Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems, 3, 49, 2014, doi:10.5194/gi-3-49-2014.
  • Kovács, P., Facskó, G., and Dandouras, I., Turbulent dynamics inside the cavity of hot flow anomaly, Planetary and Space Science, 92, 24, 2014, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2014.01.001.
  • Karlsson, T., Brenning, N., Nilsson, H., Trotignon, J.-G., Vallieres, X., and Facsko, G., Localized density enhancements in the magnetosheath: Three-dimensional morphology and possible importance for impulsive penetration, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 117, A03227, 2012, doi:10.1029/2011JA017059.
  • Hietala, H., Partamies, N., Laitinen, T.V., Clausen, L.B.N., Facskó, G., Vaivads, A., Koskinen, H. E. J., Dandouras, I., Rème, H. and Lucek, E. A., Supermagnetosonic subsolar magnetosheath jets and their effects: from the solar wind to the ionospheric convection, Annales Geophysicae, 30, 33, 2012, doi:10.5194/angeo-30-33-2012.
  • Tátrallyay, M., Erdős, G., Németh, Z., Verigin, M.I., Vennerstrom S., Multispacecraft observations of the terrestrial bow shock and the magnetopause during extreme solar wind disturbances, Annales Geophysicae 30, 1675, 2012, doi: 10.5194/angeo-30-1675-2012
  • Haque, N., Inan, U.S., Bell, T.F., Pickett, J.S., Trotignon, J.G., and Facskó, G., Cluster observations of whistler mode ducts and banded chorus, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L18107, 2011, doi:10.1029/2011GL049112.
  • Németh, Z., Facskó, G., and Lucek, E.A., Correlation Functions of Small-Scale Fluctuations of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field, Solar Physics, 266, 149, 2010, doi:10.1007/s11207-010-9610-8
  • Facskó, G., Tátrallyay, M., Erdős, G., Dandouras, I., Cluster hot flow anomaly observations during solar cycle minimum, Astrophysical and Space Science Proceedings, The Cluster Active Archive, eds. H. Laakso, M. Taylor, C.P. Escoubet, p. 369, 2010, doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-3499-1_25
  • Facskó, G., Trotignon, J.G., Dandouras, I., Lucek, E.A., and Daly, P.W., Study of hot flow anomalies using Cluster multi-spacecraft measurements, Advances in Space Research, 45, 541, 2010, doi:10.1016/j.asr.2009.08.011
  • Tátrallyay, M., Erdős, G., Dandouras, I., Georgescu, E., On the growth of mirror mode waves in the magnetosheah based on Cluster observations, , Astrophysical and Space Science Proceedings, The Cluster Active Archive, eds. H. Laakso, M. Taylor, C.P. Escoubet, p. 377, 2010, doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-3499-1_26
  • Facskó, G., Németh, Z., Erdős, G., Kis, A., and Dandouras, I., A global study of hot flow anomalies using Cluster multi-spacecraft measurements, Annales Geophysicae, 27, 2057, 2009, doi:10.5194/angeo-27-2057-2009
  • Facskó, G., Kecskeméty, K., Erdős, G., Tátrallyay, M., Daly, P.W., and Dandouras, I., A statistical study of hot flow anomalies using Cluster data, Advances in Space Research, 41, 1286, 2008, doi:10.1016/j.asr.2008.02.005
  • Tátrallyay, M., Erdős, G., Balogh, A., Dandouras, I., The evolution of mirror type magnetic fluctuations in the magnetosheath based on multipoint observations, Advances in Space Research 41, 1537, 2008, doi: 10.1016/j.asr.2007.03.039
  • Kecskeméty, K. ,Erdős, G., Facskó, G., Tátrallyay, M., Dandouras, I., Daly, P., and Kudela, K., Distributions of suprathermal ions near hot flow anomalies observed by RAPID aboard Cluster, Advances in Space Research, 38, 1587, 2006, doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.09.027
  • Németh, Z., Facskó, G., Erdős, G., and Balogh, A., : Plasma mixing as a cause of solar wind magnetic field variations, Advances in Space Research, 37, 467, 2006, doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.11.012

Cluster official website

Last updated on November 13th, 2021