Magnetic Field missions for solid-earth and near-Earth Space Geophysics

First Swarm International Science Workshop announced!

Magnetic Field missions
Missions Completed Flying Funded, Approved or under Construction Proposed
Sunsat CHAMP ST-5 -
- Demeter - -


Create your own timeline.

Satellite data set

For the terrestrial planets and moons

Missions Completed Flying Funded, Approved or under Construction Proposed
Lunar Prospector (Moon) Mars Global Surveyor - MEMOIRE (Mars)
NEAR Shoemaker (Asteroid) Mercury Messenger BEPI-Colombo (Mercury) ARES (Mars)

Corrections, additions, or changes should be sent to Michael Purucker at

Back to Geodynamics Home Page

Last updated on January 25, 2006

Name: Ørsted

Sponsoring Organizations: Danish research institutions and private companies. International participation including NASA, CNES, and ESA.

Altitude: 620 to 850 km, elliptic

Magnetic instrumentation: 8 m boom w. triaxial compact spherical coil fluxgate and scalar Overhauser magnetometer (0.1 nT)

Orientation: non-magnetic star camera (10-60 arc seconds)

Other instrumentation: GPS receiver, particles

Inclination: 96.62 degrees, approximately polar

Local times: 2:30 AM/PM drifting at -23 minutes/month

Launch date: Feb 23, 1999 at 10:29:57 UTC

Launch location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA

Launch vehicle: Secondary payload; 2nd stage of NASA Delta II

Science and data availability contact: Peter Stauning

Lifetime: 14+ mos.

Additional Information

News: A successful launch occurred after 11 attempts, a Delta II record. Boom successfully deployed on March 14, 1999. Overhauser and triaxial fluxgate instruments are working well and have collected data since boom deployment. The GPS system has also worked well and is also continuing to collect data. The star camera has produced usable data about 17-50% of the time, with illumination and temperature being controlling variables. The 4th Oersted International Science Team Conference Proceedings were published in June, 2003. The online version of the book is indexed as ISSN 1399-1949 and will probably be available here . For further information on data availability contact Peter Stauning. Orsted continues to collect data well into its sixth year (22 Dec 2005).


Sponsoring Organizations: DLR and GFZ-Potsdam,Germany. International participation includes NASA, CNES, and DSRI.

Altitude: Less than 300 to 460 km, circular (460 km at start of mission), eccentricity about 0.001.

Magnetic instrumentation: 4 m boom w. triaxial fluxgate, Overhauser scalar (0.1 nT)

Orientation: dual non-magnetic star cameras (arc second level)

Other instrumentation: gravity, Digital Ion Drift Meter , GPS

Inclination: 87.3 degrees

Local times: Initially noon, with a nodal drift rate of 1.5 to 2 deg/day

Launch date: July 15, 2000, 12h UTC

Launch vehicle: Russian Cosmos rocket of PO Polyot (OHB)

Science contacts: Hermann Lühr (magnetics) and Ch. Reigber (gravity)

Lifetime: 8 years

Notes: Contact Hermann Luehr for information on data availability.

A CHAMP Science meeting was held in July, 2004 in Potsdam, Germany, and honored the careers of Christoph Reigber and Volker Haak. The 2nd CHAMP Science Meeting was held at the GeoForschungsZentrum in Potsdam, Germany, 1-4 September 2003. The book "Earth Observation with CHAMP: Results from Three Years in Orbit" (Reigber, Luhr, Schwintzer and Wicker, eds.) was published by Springer-Verlag in 2005. For further information contact Hermann Luehr

Additional Information

Name: SAC-C or Ørsted-2

Sponsoring Organizations: Argentina. International participation includes NASA (launch, magnetometer) and Denmark (Magnetic mapping package).

Altitude: 702 km circular, sun synchronous

Orbit: Repeating with a 5 day period, active control of orbit.

Magnetic instrumentation: 8 m boom w. triaxial fluxgate, helium scalar

Spacecraft fields: 1 nT at scalar, 2 nT at vector

Orientation: non-magnetic star camera (arc second level)

Other instrumentation: GOLPE GPS experiment (occultation and surface reflection), 5 band imager (terrestrial and coastal zone imaging)

Inclination: 98.22 degrees

Local times: 10:24 AM (PST) descending node

Launch date: Nov. 18, 2000

Launch vehicle: Delta II (with EO-1)

Science contact: Nils Olsen

Data availability: A pointer to the data

Lifetime: 4 years

Notes: Boom successfully deployed on Jan. 23, 2001. A workshop to discuss the scientific results from SAC-C was held from December 3-5, 2003 in Buenos Aires. A book is planned. For further information contact Ida Nollmann

Additional Information (Spanish)

Additional Information (English)

Name: Sunsat

Sponsoring Organization: University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Altitude: 600+ to 850 km, elliptic

Magnetic instrumentation: 4 m boom w. triaxial fluxgate (1 Hz)

Orientation: GPS, star imager (>50 arc seconds) & magnetometer

Other instrumentation: High resolution camera for Landsat style imaging

Inclination: 96 degrees, polar

Local times: all

Launch date: Feb 23, 1999 at 10:29:57 UTC

Last contact: Jan. 19, 2001 at 15:22:37 UTC

Launch vehicle: Secondary payload; 2nd state Delta 2

Science contact: Pieter Kotze

Lifetime: 5 yrs

Notes: A student project which flew on the same launch vehicle as Ørsted.

Additional Information

News: A successful launch occurred after 11 attempts, a Delta II record. The boom was extended and the magnetometer produced data over Southern Africa. Stay tuned for Sunsat-2.

Name: ASTRID-2

Sponsoring Organization: Swedish Space Corporation

Altitude: 1000 km, circular

Magnetic instrumentation: 0.5 m boom w. triaxial fluxgate

Orientation: Non-magnetic star camera on a spin-stabilized craft

Orbit determination: NORAD

Other instrumentation: Particles, electric fields, magnetic torquer

Inclination: high, 83 degrees

Local times: ?

Launch date: Dec. 10, 1998

Contact lost: July 24, 1999

Launch vehicle and place: Russian Kosmos 3M; Plesetsk, Russia

Science contact: Lars Bylander

Other contacts: Therese Moreto, DMI; Fritz Primdahl, DTU

Additional Information

News: Boom successfully deployed, spin rate (9 rpm) too fast for use of star camera. Magnetic field data is currently being evaluated by Fritz Primdahl and Jose Merayo of DTU. A preliminary version of their report is available.


Sponsoring Organization: CSIRO, Australia

Altitude: 800 km circular

Magnetic instrumentation: 2.5 m boom w. triaxial fluxgate

Orientation: 20 arc seconds using star camera, GPS for position

Other instrumentation: particles, communications, space physics, remote sensing, engineering

Inclination: 98.6 degrees

Local times: sun-synchronous

Launch date: Successfully launched on December 14, 2002, to honor the centennial of the Australian Federation

Launch vehicle: Piggyback launch onboard a Japanese (NASDA) rocket, the HII-A, from Tanegushima.

Science contacts: Brian Fraser, Charles Barton

Other contact: Brian Embleton

Lifetime: Australia's Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems will close at the end of 2005, and with it FedSat(?).

Additional Information

News: Boom with magnetometer successfully deployed: Mid January, 2003. Some results were presented at the Spring, 2004 AGU in Montreal by B. Fraser.

Name: ST-5 (Space Technology 5)

Sponsoring Organization: NASA (A part of the New Millennium Program)

Altitude: Initial perigee at 300 km over the equator, apogee at 4000 km. Perigee will migrate poleward during the mission. The three spacecraft will follow one another like 'pearls on a string' at initial distances of 25 km, increasing during the mission.

Magnetic instrumentation: A boom mounted magnetometer on each of the three spacecraft making up the mini-constellation. The boom is 1 m long, comparable to the size of the nanospacecraft, each of which weighs about 20 kg.

Orientation: A spinner. No star camera, no GPS. Sun sensor on spacecraft body should provide orientation accuracy of about 0.1-0.3 degree

Inclination: 105 degrees

Local time: Dawn-Dusk

Launch date: Feb 28, 2006

Length of mission: 90+ days

Launch vehicle: Pegasus

Science contact: Jim Slavin

Additional Information

Name: DMSP Block 5

Sponsoring Organization: U.S. Military

Altitude: 840 km

Magnetic Instrumentation: triaxial fluxgate magnetometer (low thermal drift), body-mounted (F12-F14) or on a 5 m Astromast boom (F15+)

Orientation: Uncertain. Probably between 0.1 to 0.5 degrees because of incomplete knowledge of orientation of boom relative to spacecraft body and possible boom flexure. Imaging instrument on spacecraft body has 0.01 degree pointing requirement

Other instrumentation: Imaging

Inclination: high, near polar

Positioning: 400 m RMS spherical error (post-processed by NOAA at Boulder, Colorado)

Local times: 10 AM/10 PM or Dawn/Dusk

Launch date: F15 was launched on Dec. 12, 1999 and is currently operational. F16 was launched on Oct. 18, 2003 and declared operational on Nov. 19, 2003. F17 and F19 will follow at 3 year intervals, or as needed.

Launch vehicle: Titan II

Science contact: Frederick J. Rich , Susan McLean

Lifetime: 3 to 5 years

News: The calibration of F15 is being done by Frederick J. Rich . John Quinn was to subsequently merge the ephemeris and magnetic field data sets and perform an evaluation of the data. John Quinn has now retired. NOAA/NGDC may take over the preparation of the data.

Further information

Name: SACI-1

Sponsoring Organizations: INPE (Federal Government of Brazil), Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Agencia Espacial Brasileira (AEB)

Altitude: 750 km, circular

Launch vehicle: Piggyback on a large satellite (China Brazil Earth Resources Satellite). Launched on a Chinese rocket.

Magnetic Instrumentation: 0.5 m boom with triaxial ring core fluxgate (magnetometer built at UCLA, digital electronics at INPE)

Orientation: 1 degree, spin-stabilized, 6-10 rpm

Other instrumentation: cosmic rays, plasma bubbles, airglow photometer

Inclination: 98.5 degrees

Local times: 10 AM/10 PM, sun-synchronous

Launch date: Oct. 14, 1999

Science contact: Nalin Babulal Trivedi

Project Manager: Angelo Neri

Lifetime: 18 months

Reference: Geomagnetic field measurements on a polar microsatellite SACI-1, N.B. Trivedi et al., in review for Advances in Space Research

News: The satellite was successfully launched but did not respond to any ground commands nor did it send any data.

Name: Geospace Electrodynamic Connections (GEC)

Sponsoring Organization: NASA

Altitude: strongly elliptical (200 to 2000 km, with dips to as low as 130 km in the auroral region)

Configuration: 4 satellites organized initially as 'pearls on a string'. Three-axis stabilized, bullet-shaped, 256 kg of hydrazine, four thrusters, 3000 m/s of Delta V

Magnetic instrumentation: A search-coil magnetometer and a triaxial fluxgate on a boom hanging from the aft payload module.

Orientation accuracy: unknown, probably some minutes of arc

Other instrumentation: electric field, plasma, particles

Inclination: 83 degrees, near polar

Local times: all, initially 1:36 AM ascending node

Launch date: No fixed date (2013?)

Lifetime: 2 years

Science/mission contact: Joseph M. Grebowsky or Jan Sojka

Additional Information


Sponsoring Organization: CNES (Phase A ongoing through November, 2001)

Altitude: Near-earth, possibly with an aerobraking phase

Magnetic instrumentation: boom with triaxial CSC fluxgate and total field Overhauser

Orientation accuracy: Low-magnetic star camera (arc second level)

Other instrumentation: GPS

Inclination: undecided

Launch vehicle: secondary payload on an Arianne

Launch date: No fixed date

Lifetime: 2 years

Contacts: Coordinator: Pascal Tarits Science: Gauthier Hulot Instrumentation: Michel Menvielle

Name: Demeter

Sponsoring Organization: CNES,LPCE,IPGP,CETP,CESR

Altitude: 800 km

Magnetic instrumentation: 3 axis search-coil magnetometerr

Other instrumentation: 4 electrical sensors, Langmuir probe, plasma analyzer, particle detector

Inclination: near polar orbit

Local times: ?

Launch vehicle: Ariane 5 or PSLV

Launch date: June 29 2004

Lifetime: 2 years

Objectives: Study of ionospheric disturbances associated with natural geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or tsunamis. A secondary objective is to study the electromagnetic disturbances of the planet linked with human activity.

Contacts: Michel Parrot, LPCE, Orleans, France

News: The scientific mission began on 11 August 2004.

Additional information

Name: SWARM: an ESA constellation mission to Observe the Dynamics of the Earth's Magnetic Field

Sponsoring Organization: ESA, Denmark, France, Germany, NASA/CSA involvement

Altitude: Two spacecraft at 450 km separated by 150 km in an E-W direction, one at 550 km.

Configuration: Multiple satellites in near-polar orbits.

Magnetic instrumentation: Each satellite will have a CSC vector magnetometer and an absolute magnetometer. A GPS receiver, an electric field instrument, and an accelerometer will also be included.

Orientation: Non-magnetic star cameras (triple camera heads) and GPS receivers, resulting in an overall resolution in the 0.1 nT/1 arcsec range.

Inclination: high, near polar.

Local times: Different satellites have different drift rates, resulting in a differential local time evolution

Launch date: 2009

Science contacts: Eigil Friis-Christensen , Hermann Luehr and Gauthier Hulot

Lifetime: 4 years

Notes: Swarm has now been selected for full implementation by ESA. Phase B began in 2005. The First Swarm International Science Workshop will be held in Nantes, France from 3-5 May 2006.

Additional Information

Name: C/NOFS, Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System

Sponsoring organizations: USA including Dept.of Defense, Air Force Research Laboratory, NASA, Naval Research Laboratory, and GSFC.

Altitude: 400-710 km

Magnetic instrumentation: 3-axis fluxgate designed and built by Mario Acuna. Sensitivity range +- 45000 nT. DC measurements reported at 1 Hz. AC measurements reported at 16 Hz. Magnetometer and electric field data are sampled simultaneously. 50 nT noise level predicted for magnetometer based on spacecraft fields and boom length.

Boom: 0.6 m

Orientation: Via star sensor. Attitude accuracy estimated to be at least 0.1 degree.

Inclination: 13 degrees

Local times: All

Launch date: Early 2006

Science contacts: Robert Pfaff

Lifetime: 1 year

Notes: The magnetometer is part of the electric field package. In addition to the vector electric field instrument, the spacecraft is also carrying a planar Langmuir probe, a neutral wind monitor, and ion velocity monitor, a GPS receiver for remote ionospheric sensing, and a radio beacon.

Additional Information

Name: Mars Global Surveyor

Sponsoring Organization: NASA

Altitude: Elliptical with 85 km periapsis followed by 380 km circular

Magnetic instrumentation: a triaxial fluxgate in both solar panels

Orientation: Attitude to within 1 degree

Other instrumentation: Imaging, electron reflectometer

Inclination: 89 degrees

Sampling Rate: Up to 24 Hz

Local time: 2 PM/2 AM

Science contacts: Mario Acuna 301-286-7258 (GSFC), Bob Lin (Berkeley) or Dave Curtis (Berkeley)

News: Began orbiting Mars in Sept, 1997. MGS is now in a circular mapping orbit. The instrument was healthy and collecting data in December of 2005.

Additional Information

Name: Lunar Prospector

Sponsoring Organization: NASA

Altitude: 100 km for 1st year, then 20 km

Magnetic instrumentation: 4.5 m boom with triaxial fluxgate

Orientation: Spacecraft is spinning at 12 rpm, Attitude to within 1 degree

Other instrumentation: spectrometers, gravity, electron reflectometer

Inclination: near-polar

Launch time: Jan. 9, 1998

Lifetime: Crashed onto moon on July 31, 1999

Launch vehicle: Lockheed Launch Vehicle 2

Science contacts: Mario Acuna 301-286-7258 or Lon Hood 520-621-6936

Name: Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Shoemaker

Sponsoring Organization: NASA

Altitude: 200 km until April, then 100 km, finally landing in Feb, 2001.

Magnetic instrumentation: Triaxial fluxgate mounted on high-gain antenna feed, 1 m from spacecraft bus.

Other instrumentation: spectrometers, laser rangefinder, imager

Launch time: Feb. 17, 1996

Launch vehicle: Delta-2 Insertion into orbit: Feb. 14, 2000

Lifetime: 1 year

Science contacts: Mario Acuna 301-286-7258, Chris Russell, or Brian Anderson

Additional Information

Name: Mercury Messenger

Sponsoring Organization: NASA

Magnetic instrumentation: 3.6 m boom with triaxial fluxgate

Other instrumentation: imagers, laser altimeter

Launch time: August 3, 2004

Flybys: July, 2007 and April, 2008 at 200 km altitude

Mapping: April, 2009, with input from earlier flybys.

Lifetime: >1 year

Data availability: Data will be publicly available subsequent to calibration.

Science contacts: Mario Acuna 301-286-7258, Jim Slavin 301-286-5839 or Sean Solomon 202-478-8850

News: The magnetometer was turned on and successfully tested in the stowed position. Boom deployment will occur next year.

Additional Information

Name: BEPI-Colombo

Sponsoring Organization: ESA, Japan

Magnetic instrumentation: Magnetometer on Magnetospheric Orbiter

Other instrumentation: ion spectrometer, ion/electron analyzer, wave analyszer, cold plasma detector, energetic particle detector

Orientation: spin-stabilized, 15 RPM

Inclination: polar Orbit: 400 x 12000 km

Launch time: Sept, 2012

Lifetime: 1 year

Additional Information


Proposing Organizations: CNES

Altitude: Circular at 400 km, followed by elliptical (170 x 1000 km).

Magnetic instrumentation: CSC fluxgate magnetometer

Inclination: near-polar

Launch date: None scheduled

Science contacts: Mioara Mandea or Eric Chassefiere

Name: ARES: Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey of Mars

Concept: A jet-powered airplane

Proposing Organizations: NASA Mars Scout finalist

Magnetic instrumentation: Wing-tip mounted triaxial fluxgates

Altitude: 1.5 km above the surface

Observation location: A 680 km traverse of the southern highlands near the large magnetic features in Terra Sirenum/Cimmeria

Other Instrumentation: Mass Spectrometry, water vapor, camera

Launch date: None scheduled

Science contact: Jack Connerney (+1 301 286 5884)

Additional Information