Airbus Defence and Space

Swarm: a trio of satellites for a unique view inside the Earth

The Swarm mission will provide the most detailed data yet on the geomagnetic field of the Earth and its temporal evolution.

Airbus Defence and Space was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop and build the three satellites of the Swarm mission, giving new insights into improving our knowledge of the Earth's interior and climate. The three spacecraft necessary for this mission are scheduled for launch from Plesetsk with a Rockot launcher in 2012.

The Swarm constellation satellites will be placed in three different polar orbits, two flying side by side at an altitude of 450km and a third at an altitude of 530km. High-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength, direction and variations of the Earth's magnetic field, complemented by precise navigation, accelerometer and electric field measurements, will provide valuable data essential for modelling the geomagnetic field and its interaction with other physical aspects of the Earth system. The results will offer a unique view of the inside of the Earth from space, enabling the composition and processes of the interior to be studied in detail and increase our knowledge of atmospheric processes and ocean circulation patterns that affect climate and weather.

Fact Sheet

Customer European Space Agency
Mission Geomagnetic field measurement
Orbit Polar Low Earth Orbit
Spacecraft Swarm consists of 3 satellites in a constellation flying at altitudes between 490 and 300km
Payload • ASM (Absolute Scalar Magnetometer)
• VFM (Vector Field Magnetometer)
• EFI (Electrical Field Instrument
• ACC (Accelerometer)
• LRR (Laser Retro Reflector)
• Star Tracker System
• GPS Receiver L1/L2
Features • Magnetically clean spacecraft
• Deployable boom (4m)
• Ultra-stable optical bench
• High ballistic coefficient
• 6Mbit/s S-band downlink
• L1/l2 GPSR
• Earth oriented safe mode
Launch Mass 1500 kg
Dimensions Height = 1m, Width = 1.5m, Depth = 9m
Launch Date 2012
Mission Duration 4 years
Airbus Defence and Space Responsibilities • Prime contractor
• Thermal/mechanical platform
• System AIT/V
• PCDU and Solar Array
• Optical Bench Assembly
• Mission analysis


Download Fact Sheet (PDF)

Earth ObservationEnvironmentSwarm