Minimize Swarm Mission Overview
Introduction Constellation Mission Science Objectives

Introduction

Copyright: ESA/ATG Medialab

Swarm is ESA's first constellation mission for Earth Observation (EO). This mission is operated by ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), in Germany, via the primary ground station in Kiruna, Sweden. This mission consists of the three identical Swarm satellites (A, B, and C), which were launched on 22 November 2013 into a near-polar orbit.

The final constellation of the mission was achieved on 17 April 2014. Swarm A and C form the lower pair of satellites flying side-by-side (1.4° separation in longitude) at an altitude of 462 km (initial altitude) and at 87.35° inclination angle, whereas Swarm B is cruising at higher orbit of 511 km (initial altitude) and at 87.75° inclination angle.

In the case of the natural orbit evaluation, the following constellation will be achieved:

  • The year 2018: B is perpendicular to the lower A/C pair;
  • The year 2021: B is counterrotating to the lower A/C pair every 47 minutes.

All the three Swarm satellite are equipped with the following set of identical instruments: Absolute Scalar Magnetometer (ASM), Vector Field Magnetometer (VFM), Star Tracker (STR), Electric Field Instrument (EFI), GPS Receiver (GPSR), Laser Retro-Reflector (LRR) and Accelerometer (ACC).

The thermo-optical properties and geometry of the outer surfaces of the Swarm satellites that are important for modelling of non-gravitational forces acting on the spacecraft are provided in the ESA-EOPG-MOM-MO-15 document.