The four-spacecraft CLUSTER II mission allows distinguishing spatial versus temporal changes, allowing for the first time understanding of turbulence in the solar wind and magnetic reconnection at the magnetopause and magnetotail. In its latest phases, it can study the auroral acceleration region.


The four Cluster spacecraft were launched in pairs on July 16, and August 19, 2000, and have been taking amazing data ever since. Many of its major science results are described in the Cluster science page at ESA and in the NASA science pages.

A listing of the many scientific research papers published so far with U.S. participation can be downloaded here.

At Rice, we are leading the Cluster Educational effort by creating animations, data sonifications, educational products, and planetarium shows, in cooperation with Mona Kessel at GSFC.

This outreach progam is part of the Public Connection program, which uses museum kiosks, games, and educational CD-Roms to teach about earth and space. Cluster data and animations can be found on the "Space Weather" disk (given away free to teachers in the annual "Sun-Earth Day" packet); and the Space Update disk (available for sale through our web site and in museums and catalogs)

Cluster animations created by GSFC and Rice are now being shown in our portable immersive theaters, which are available for daily in-school programs or for sale:

  • Four-spacecraft fisheye high resolution video of cluster orbit (from GSFC), with sonification of magnetic field data. Can be put directly into our fisheye projection systems but can also be projected using a normal projector into a hemisphere. WARNING: 180 MB. Courtesy M. Kessel of GSFC.
  • Four-spacecraft measurements of magnetic fields through a magnetic x-line (March 18, 2002). The spacecraft with the lowest measured field in the x-plane set the location for all four.
  • Four-spacecraft measurements of magnetic fields through a magnetic x-line (March 18, 2002). (previous version, with slightly different assumptions) (From D. Wendel thesis, Rice University). Sonification by M. Kessel at GSFC.
  • animation (using a weather analogy) of why one needs four spacecraft to infer the motion of and orientation of boundaries (in this case, weather fronts). Used by teachers as an activity to determine the boundaries of the weather fronts (rain, snow, clearing).
  • Project "SMART" summer program at the University of New Hampshire
  • "Master of Science Teaching" degree at Rice University, with a content focus that includes space weather.


For NASA science press releases, go to

For more Sun-Earth connections missions, go to the NASA Sun-Earth web site.

To be notified of additional educational materials released, Just go to the Rice University Lists and subscribe to the "e-teacher" Mailing List or send an e-mail to To unsubscribe follow the instructions on the e-teacher Mailing List page, or send an e-mail to