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European Cluster Assimilation Technolgy

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An up-to-date space plasma data resource

The European Space Agency (ESA)'s Cluster mission has been in orbit for over a decade, providing multi-point observations of the Earth's space environment. An EU-funded project substantially upgraded the mission's data repository to afford a better understanding of what drives space weather.

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The Cluster Active Archive (CAA) is a state-of-the-art data repository that contains processed and validated multi-point measurements collected by four Cluster spacecraft. CAA enables researchers to conduct detailed studies of the highest resolution Cluster observations accumulated from different types of experiments. Although an invaluable resource to the space physics community, this multi-instrument data is difficult to mine and analyse, as it lacks supporting contextual data. To fill this gap, scientists working on the EU-funded project called ECLAT (European Cluster assimilation technology) imported measurements from a variety of other space missions and ground-based observatories. Data mining, visualisation and analysis routines, as well as a magnetospheric modelling infrastructure were also being added. The software tools enable CAA users to place spacecraft within the Earth's magnetosphere recreated from ground observations, marrying two datasets (space- and ground-based observations) for the first time. Use of information about the solar wind conditions facilitates the creation of a detailed 3D map of the Earth's magnetosphere – the magnetic bubble that surrounds the planet. By analysing the different characteristics of the observed magnetic and electric fields, the upgraded CAA will provide new insights into many physical processes. Researchers will gain a better understanding of processes affecting the Earth's magnetic field and the magnetosphere. With this information, they could watch space weather unfold in a way never before possible and, more importantly, improve the quality of forecast of space weather events.


Space plasma, data resource, Cluster mission, Earth's magnetosphere, space weather

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