Imperial College Space and Atmospheric Physics

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The Imperial College Cluster team (Chris Carr, Julian Harris and Patrick Brown) delivered the first of four new Flight Models of of the FGM instrument to the Prime Contractor, Dornier Satellitensysteme GmbH, in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The instrument was then successfully integrated on the flight spacecraft in mid-December 1998.

In the meantime, the second new Flight Model was assembled and tested in Imperial College, from sub-units built at Imperial College, at the Institut fuer Geophysik und Meteorology, Technische Universitaet, Braunschweig, Germany, at the Institut fuer Weltraumforschung, Graz, Austria, and at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt Md., USA.

On 20 January, this second new FGM instrument (in fact the seventh we built) was taken over to Braunschweig by Julian Harris and Patrick Brown for calibration in the IGM's Magnetsrode calibration facility. This will take two weeks, then the instrument will be carried back to Imperial College for further tests, including the thermal vacuum and vibration tests which will be carried out in the facilities of the Rutherford Appletoon Laboratory.

This instrument will be delivered to Dornier in March. We then need to build and test another two Flight Models of the FGM and, in addition, we will refurbish the Flight Spare instrument left over from the Cluster-1 programme.

In the near future, we will begin (again) the preparations needed for the scientific exploitation of this uniquely important space mission. A meeting of the Cluster-II Principal Investigators (including André Balogh from Imperial College for the Magnetic Field Investigation) is taking place at the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland, in the week of 25 January to discuss and plan the scientific operations of the four-spacecraft mission. While the orbit of Cluster-II will be identical to what was to be the Cluster-I orbit, the operations will be conducted from a single ground station, but with a vastly increased data storage capability on the spacecraft then originally planned. These changes from the previous plans need to be incorrporated into a new Master Science Plan for Cluster-II.

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  • André Balogh 22 January 1999.