SWARM mission news archive
29/11/2013

ASM first results

The first operations of the absolute scalar magnetometers (ASM) started on the 26/11/13. The instruments were switched on on the 3 satellites on the 26/11/13. Some health check were first performed thanks to the diagnoses modes available onboard. The instruments were then switched to measurements modes:

    they carried out scalar measurements of the magnetic field at 1 Hz over 5 orbits (ASM in scalar mode),
    then they achieved scalar measurements of the magnetic field at 250 Hz over 3 orbits (ASM in burst mode), to analyse the spectral content of the magnetic field above 1 Hz, about which little is currently known,
    they were finally switched to vector mode, which is the nominal measurement mode for the ASM on Swarm, to produce simultaneous scalar and vector measurements at the same location at 1 Hz.

All functional verifications were successful.

© CNES - CEA/Leti
© CNES - CEA/Leti

The scalar performances were assessed from the first measurements and showed to be excellent : the resolution is better than 1 pT/racine carréeHz on the 3 instruments and does not depend on the field modulus, as shown on the plots below. Compared to the performance of the scalar magnetometers on the Ørsted and CHAMP satellites, this represents an improvement by a factor of 4 to 50 depending on the value of the ambient field, as on those satellites the performances were dependent on the magnetic field modulus.

Besides, the ASM precision is better than 65 pT in the worst case (performance demonstrated on ground) and independent on the field modulus, which represents an improvement by a factor 5 if compared with the scalar magnetometers on Ørsted and CHAMP.

© CNES - CEA/Leti
© CNES - CEA/Leti

© CNES - CEA/Leti
© CNES - CEA/Leti

© CNES - CEA/Leti
© CNES - CEA/Leti

The vector performances of the ASM are promising. Indeed, a rough preliminary calibration was done using the measurements from the first orbits, that already allowed to achieve scalar residual around 1 nT, which was our target. Below is an example of the measurements obtained with the ASM in vector mode on the 3 satellites, in the ASM reference frame, at ASM time. Note that given the scale of the plot, the curves obtained from the 3 ASM instruments measurements are superimposed and merged, because the 3 satellites are currently still very close from each others (76 to 211 km).

© CNES - CEA/Leti
© CNES - CEA/Leti

22/11/2013

Successful Swarm launch, the satellites trio is in orbit!

The 3 Swarm satellites were successfully launched on Friday the 22nd of November, 2013 at 12:02 UTC (13:02 CET), by a Russian Rockot launcher, from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. They were injected simultaneously, on a near polar orbit, at an altitude of 490 km. Several orbital manoeuvres will be done in the coming weeks, in order to reach the operational constellation, with a side-by-side flying lower pair of satellites (Swarm A and B) at an initial altitude of about 460 km and a single higher satellite (Swarm C) at about 530 km. This configuration will be achieved 4 months after launch.

Swarm launch (ESA)
Swarm launch (ESA)

The 3 first days in orbit were dedicated to the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP), which is critical. During this phase, the satellite booms were deployed, the vital platform equipments were activated, configured and verified. This includes the S-band communication subsystem, the electrical power subsystem, the thermal control subsystem, the attitude and orbit control system, the cold gas propulsion subsystem, and the data handling system. The star tracker assembly was switched-on to achieve the fine pointing mode. The GPS Receiver was switched on to allow the on-board time synchronisation and the GPS navigation solution usage in fine pointing mode.

This LEOP phase was successfully completed, the 3 satellites are now in a safe and stable in-orbit configuration, with the booms deployed, the attitude and orbit control system in fine pointing mode and the main platform equipments and subsystems switched ON and verified. The constellation is ready to start the first nominal orbit acquisition manoeuvres and commissioning phase activities, which will last 3 months.

Next step is to switch on and verify the scientific payload. The Absolute Scalar Magnetometers (ASM), provided by CNES, are going to be switched on at D+4.

12/11/2013

It was confirmed that Swarm will be launched on 22/11/2013 at 12:02 UTC.

For all the latest information, visit http://blogs.esa.int/eolaunches/ and www.esa.int/swarm.

Three Swarm satellites on the adapter
Three Swarm satellites on the adapter. (ESA/M. Shafiq)

04/11/2013

The launch the 3 swarm satellites from Plesetsk, Russia, originally scheduled for 14 November 2013, has been postponed by at least one week.

This delay is due to the decision to replace a unit in the Breeze upper stage of the Rockot launcher. The new launch date should be announced shortly.

Swarm launch campaign blog: http://blogs.esa.int/eolaunches/

All three Swarm satellites
All three Swarm satellites in vertical positions, ready to join the launch adapter (credits ESA)

14/10/2013

The satellites' functional tests are completed

The six absolute scalar magnetometers were successfully verified. The preparations for launch are progressing on schedule.

Visit ESA's blog for more details on the Swarm launch campaign.

Two Swarm satellites
Two Swarm satellites

03/10/2013

Swarm launch campaign continues in Plessetsk.

All proceeds normally and in accordance with the schedule. A CNES/LETI team ensures a permanence for all the tests involving the ASM, in order to verify their proper course. The FM1 satellite functional tests (Abbreviated Functional Test / AFT) took place on the nominal side on 02/10/13. The ASM telemetry is fully consistent with the expected.

FM1 satellite in AFT test.
FM1 satellite in AFT test.

In addition to the satellite AFT tests, ASM good health tests are scheduled in Plessetsk to verify the ASM good operation in a more detailled way. They were successfully realized on the ASM FM2A and FM2B on 30/09/13.

The FM3 satellite fuelling is completed. EADS will now proceeds to the FM2 fuelling.

FM3 satellite during the fuelling.
FM3 satellite during the fuelling.

The launch is still scheduled for the 14/11/2013.

09/2013

A 1st CNES / LETI team arrived on site on 27/09/13, in order to verify the proper functioning of the different tests involving the ASM.

FM3 satellite functional tests (Abbreviated Functional Test / AFT) were performed on tuesday 24/09 on the nominal side and on wednesday 25/09 on the redundant side. In the same way, the FM2 satellite tests were performed on friday 27/09/13 on the nominal side and on saturday 28/09/13 on the redundant side. The ASM telemetry verification shows that the functioning is perfectly nominal.

Isabelle Fratter (on the left) and Jean-Michel Léger (on the right) in front of the FM2 satellite, in the integration hall in Plessetsk.
Isabelle Fratter (on the left) and Jean-Michel Léger (on the right) in front of the FM2 satellite, in the integration hall in Plessetsk.

09/2013

Visit ESA's blog to follow the Swarm launch campaign

17/09/2013

The launch campaign has begun, the 1st satellite was transported from Ottobrunn to Plessetsk on the 17/09

12/09/2013

Succesful Rokot launch last night

Three Gonets-M communications satellites were sucessfully launched last night, from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia, by a Russian Rokot launcher. The launch, which took place at 23:23 UTC on wednesday (03:23 Moscow time on thursday), marked Rokot's return to flight after a nine-month suspension. Flights were suspended since January 2013, after the rocket's Briz-KM booster failed to deliver three military satellites into their designated orbits, resulting in the loss of one of the satellites.

Good news for the Swarm mission, which should be the next to be launched by this rocket, on the 14th of Novembre 2013.

09/2013

Swarm launch scheduled for November 14th, 2013

ESA confirmed the 14/11/13 date for the launch of the 3 Swarm satellites from Plessetsk base (subjected to the success of upcoming Rockot launch scheduled on the 12/09/13). The launch campaign will thus soon begin. The 3 satellites are in their containers, ready for expedition, they will be transported to Plessetsk by plane respectively on the 17, 19 and 21/09.

The 3 SWARM satellites in final configuration, just just before storage in the containers (credits EADS)
The 3 SWARM satellites in final configuration, just just before storage in the containers (credits EADS)

07/2013

Swarm launch expected mid November 2013

The next Rockot launch is now scheduled on the 10th of Septembre 2013. The Swarm launch would then be scheduled in November 2013, the 17th being the provisional date.

04/2013

Swarm launch foreseen in October 2013

Khrunichev completed the investigation related to the launcher's anomaly observed on the 15/01/13. The next rockot launch is scheduled at the end of June 2013. The Swarm launch could then be scheduled in October 2013.

03/2013

Swarm launch is postponed until August - September at the earliest

Following the launcher's anomaly which occured on the 15/01/13, Khrunichev needs to pursue the investigations at least until the end of March 2013. The next rockot launch would then be planned not earlier than the end of May. This would delay the Swarm launch until August - September at the earliest.

02/2013

Swarm launch delayed to mid year at the earliest

On January 15, 2013 a Rockot launch vehicle using a Breeze-KM upper stage successfully placed three Russian military communication satellites into orbit. However, after releasing the satellites into their correct orbit, the Breeze-KM post-deployment maneuver failed. An inquiry is in progress in Russia, which may further delay the Swarm launch to mid-year at the earliest. One more Russian government launch is due before Swarm.

12/2012

Swarm launch date is now uncertain (April 2013 at the earliest)

The ASM sensors and interface bracket anisotropy re-characterisation is now completed, the flight hardware was sent back to EADS. The 3 satellites will be stowed in their transport containers again before the end of the year.

The next Rockot launch which was expected in November was postponed again until next year. Then, on the 09/12/2012, the Proton launcher encountered a new failure which may have an impact also on the next rockot launch due to similarities between Proton/Briz-M and Rockot/Briz-KM motors. Moreover another rockot launch is to be scheduled before Swarm. The Swarm launch date is now uncertain, it is foreseen during the second quarter of 2013 at the earliest.

10/2012

SWARM launch postponed until April 2013

At present two Rockot launches are foreseen at Plesetsk in November 2012 and January 2013, prior to the Swarm launch. The Swarm launch is now scheduled in April 2013, but the date is likely to be consolidated after the November launch.

Taking advantage of the launch delay to April 2013, it was decided to carry out some additional work on the satellites, which were stored in their transport containers since the 10th of July. The ASM sensors and the interface bracket were dismounted and sent back to CEA-LETI for anisotropy re-characterisation.

09/2012

SWARM launch postponed

The 3 Swarm satellites are stored at IABG in Ottobrunn (Germany) in their containers filled with nitrogen since mid-July, waiting for their transfer to Plesetsk.

A Rockot launch was successful on the 28/07/12, it marked the return to flight of Rockot after the failure of February 2011. Another Rockot launch should take place before Swarm, it was scheduled for mid-September 2012, but was postponed to November after the failure of Proton/Briz-M on 06/08/12, due to similarities between Proton/Briz-M and Rockot/Briz-KM motors. Due to this new reschedule, the Swarm campaign cannot begin before mid-December 2012, which will lead to Swarm launch mid-March 2013 at the earliest.

01/2012

Some news from SWARM: the AIT test of the 2nd satellite ended in December, the 3rd satellite will be tested during the 1st quater of 2012. Everything is nominal about the ASM. The launch is still scheduled for the autumn 2012.

FM2 Satellite installed at MFSA (magnetic tests chamber) mast deployed, the ASM probes are at the end of the mast under the white MLI (Multi-Layered Insulation)  Configuration set up of the 3 Swarm satellites for acoustic tests
On the left: FM2 Satellite installed at MFSA (magnetic tests chamber) mast deployed, the ASM probes are at the end of the mast under the white MLI (Multi-Layered Insulation)
On the Right: configuration set up of the 3 Swarm satellites for acoustic tests.

09/2011

The first Swarm satellite (FM2) is currently installed in the IABG Magnetic Field Simulation Facility located at Ottobrunn in Germany. The magnetic tests are in progress (see pictures). The environment tests of the second Swarm satellite (FM1) have started early Septembre. The integration of the third Swarm satellite (FM3) is being pursued at EADS Friedrichshafen.

Magnetic tests of the first SWARM satellite (FM2) at IABG - credits: ESA  Magnetic tests of the first SWARM satellite (FM2) at IABG - credits: ESA
Magnetic tests of the first SWARM satellite (FM2) at IABG - credits: ESA

20/06/2011

Swarm on display at Le Bourget
The International Paris Air Show - Le Bourget will take place from June 20 to 26, 2011.
In CNES pavilion, you will be able to see a 1/10 scale model of one Swarm satellite, as well as an engineering model of the absolute magnetometer, which served to validate the instrument's design.

One SWARM satellite mockup at Paris Air Show
One SWARM satellite mockup at Paris Air Show

16/03/2011

After the delivery acceptance of the 6 ASM flight models, supplementary tests were carried out by CEA/LETI in order to characterize the magnetic signature of the ASM sensors mounted on the satellite's titanium bracket. Following these measurements, the instruments were shipped to EADS at Friedrichshafen for integration into the Swarm satellites; the FM2 were handed over on the 10/02/11, the FM1 and FM3 on the 16/03/11.
So the ASM is the first instrument of the payload whose flight models are all delivered to EADS.

The ASM sensors mounted on the satellite's titanium bracket - Credits : Astrium
The ASM sensors mounted on the satellite's titanium bracket - Credits : Astrium
Swarm satellite integration at Astrium Friedrichshafen - © Astrium / 2010
Swarm satellite integration at Astrium Friedrichshafen - © Astrium / 2010
15/02/2011

CNES and CEA/LETI delivered to ESA the third and last pair of the absolute scalar magnetometer (ASM) flight models. These two instruments, one nominal model and one redundant, will equip the third Swarm satellite. The 6 flight models have thus been delivered to ESA in 2 months and offer excellent performances, with a remarquable repeatability.

ASM MV3 during the good health tests before the mechanical tests - Credits: I. Fratter
ASM MV3 during the good health tests before
the mechanical tests - Credits: I. Fratter

17/01/2011

Only one month after the delivery of the first pair of the absolute scalar magnetometer ASM / Swarm flight models, CNES and CEA/LETI delivered to ESA the 2nd pair of flight models, constituted of a nominal and a redundant models. These instruments will equip the 2nd Swarm satellite of the ESA. The delivery review took place on 17/01/2011 at LETI. The delivery has been accepted, with again test results deemed excellent.

DPU FM2 and FM2 sensors - Credits: I. Fratter
DPU FM2 and FM2 sensors - Credits: I. Fratter

17/12/2010

CNES and LETI delivered the 2 first ASM flight models to ESA and EADS (flight model N°1, nominal and redundant). The delivery review board was held on the 14/12/2010 at LETI. The delivery was accepted, the results were considered excellent. The hardware was then delivered to EADS at Friedrichshafen on the 16/12/2010, the handover meeting was held on the 17/12/2010.

DPU FM1b and FM1 sensors - Credits: Gérard Cottet
DPU FM1b and FM1 sensors - Credits: Gérard Cottet

19/08/2010

CEA-Leti said that a prototype of the new-generation scalar magnetometer, which it designed and developed in partnership with CNES, has passed the qualification step en route to being deployed in the SWARM space mission.

Read the complete press release

19/08/2010 Swarm, Toulouse experts and the PWM autopsy (in French)
09/03/2010 CNES and CEA/LETI participate to Jean-Louis Etienne's next polar mission
4-5/03/2010 PFM DPU vibration and shock tests
09/11-08/12/2009 PFM and FM sensors and harnesses vibration and shock tests
24/09/2009 ASM PFM Test Readiness Review (TRR)
24-26/06/2009 2nd SWARM international science meeting at GFZ in Potsdam
04/06/2009 ASM CDR Board meeting: green light for phase D
24/04/2009 CDR SWARM CDR Board meeting at ESTEC
31/03/2009 ASM Critical Design Review (CDR) at CNES
20/03/2009 1st meeting of the French SWARM scientific community in Paris
27/02/2009 SWARM project Critical Design Review (CDR) at ESTEC
13/02/2007 Presentation of the SWARM Preliminary Design Review at ESTEC
12/12/2006 ASM PDR Board meeting: green light for phase C
10/11/2006 Presentation of the ASM Preliminary Design Review
03-05/05/2006 1st SWARM international science meeting at Nantes University
01/11/2005 Beginning of ASM B Phase at CNES
06/10/2005 Programme decision by CNES Board of Directors: go-ahead for phases B/C/D/E (CNES Press Release)
 

Latest update 12/11/2013