SWARM-Cluster synergy studies

ESA project
Exploiting synergies between Swarm and Cluster


This ESA funded project (2013-2014) exploited synergies between two ESA satellite missions: The three spacecraft Swarm mission, which is the first multi-satellite mission probing the Earth's ionosphere, and the well-established Cluster four-spacecraft mission, which has been the first multi-satellite mission to study the Earth's magnetosphere and near space environment.

The study consisted of two parts: In the first part, new data analysis techniques for Swarm that derive parameters of ionospheric electrodynamics were defined. Further, techniques were defined that link the result of these Swarm data analysis techniques with Cluster data products of electromagnetic parameters in the magnetosphere, and that allow extracting parameters of the ionosphere-magnetosphere coupling state. These techniques were validated using synthetic data sets. Recommendations on how to use the technique with the expected constellations of Swarm and Cluster were also defined.

Part 1: Ionospheric conductity study, led by Olaf Amm (FMI)

The main objective of Part 1 of the study was to perform a detailed study for obtaining ionospheric currents, conductances and plasma convection maps, and from those coupling factors between ionosphere and magnetosphere, in preparation of joint analysis of Swarm and Cluster data.

Our proposed solution for deriving maps of ionospheric currents, convection, and conductances is to develop a new data analysis technique for ionospheric multi-satellite data, which is based on the successful CHAMP data analysis technique mentioned above. This technique will be based on a hybrid approach combining 1D and 2D SECS.

Our proposed solution for deriving the M-I coupling factor K is to perform a Walen separation of the FAC density in the magnetosphere into its incoming and outgoing parts, and to compute K based on the separated FAC density and the ionospheric and magnetospheric electric field measurements.

Results of Part 1 have been published in the paper by Amm et al., 2015 (JGR, doi:10.1002/2014JA020154)

In the second part of the study, a wider-scale analysis of new science opportunities by combining the Swarm and Cluster satellite mission data was provided. A methodology on how to make optimal use of these new opportunities, taking into account the virtual constellation of Swarm and Cluster, was delivered. The final recommendations also included input from a larger user community, which the study team collected on a user meeting arranged in ISSI Bern.

Part 2: SWARM-Cluster science opportunities, led by Kirsti Kauristie (FMI)

The objective of Part 2 was to perform a more general survey about the new science opportunities which the Swarm Cluster Virtual Mission (SCVM) will open in the research of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling physics. From the basis of previous work done with combined Cluster, LEO satellite, and ground-based instrumentation a review of advanced data analysis methods was conducted and the opportunities to upgrade these methods for SCVM research was studied. The predicted orbit information and instrument specifications of the two missions was investigated in order to see how they well support the new science ideas. The plan of SCVM science program and satellite operations suggested by the project team was presented to the user community of the missions in a dedicated ISSI forum. Feedback from the forum was used to create a suggestion for a roadmap to guide potential SCVM activities.


  • Finnish Meteorological Institute space related sections (FMI), Finland
  • Technical University of Denmark space related sections (DTU Space), Denmark
  • Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ Potsdam), Germany
  • Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), UK
  • Swedish Institute of Space Physics Uppsala (IRFU), Sweden
  • Institute for Research in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP), France