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Ørsted (satellite)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oersted satellite model.jpg
Model of the Ørsted Satellite
in the Tycho Brahe Planetarium
Mission typeEarth observation
OperatorDanish Meteorological Institute
COSPAR ID1999-008B
SATCAT no.25635
Mission durationOne-year (planned)
22 years and 8 days
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerComputer Resources International (Terma A/S)
Launch mass60.8 kg [1]
Dimensions34 x 45 x 72 cm
(and an 8 m boom)
Power54 W (nominal)
Start of mission
Launch date23 February 1999, 10:29:55 UTC
RocketDelta II 7920-10
(Delta # 267)
Launch siteVandenberg, SLC-2W
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
(near–sun synchronous) [2]
Perigee altitude630.0 km
Apogee altitude850.0 km
Period100.0 minutes
Epoch23 February 1999

Ørsted is Denmark's first satellite, named after Hans Christian Ørsted (1777–1851), a Danish physicist and professor at the University of Copenhagen, who discovered electromagnetism in 1820.


The spacecraft primary science objectives were to perform highly accurate and sensitive measurements of the geomagnetic field and to perform global monitoring of the high energy charged particle environment.[1]


The instrumentation consisted of two magnetometers (proton precession and fluxgate), a star imager for attitude determination, a solid-state charged particle detector package, and a GPS receiver. The Science Instrument Team is responsible for the design of the instruments, while the Science Team is responsible for the science mission planning and international science participation. The science data obtained during the planned one-year mission will be used to derive an updated model of the geomagnetic field and its secular variation and to study the magnetospheric field-aligned currents and their relationship to ionospheric and solar wind conditions.[1]

The principal research topics are in two areas: 1° studies of the generation of the magnetic field in the fluid core and the magnetic and electrical properties of the solid Earth; and 2° studies of Earth's magnetic field as the controlling parameter of the magnetosphere and of all the physical processes that take place in the Earth's plasma environment, including phenomena like aurora and magnetic storms.[1]

The primary scientific instruments on the Ørsted satellite are:

The other three instruments are located in the main body of the satellite:

To utilize the Ørsted science data return, the plan is to establish an internationally recognized research environment in the field of solar-terrestrial physics, a Solar-Terrestrial Physics Laboratory, comprising magnetospheric, ionospheric, and atmospheric physics in combination with research in the magnetic field of the Earth. Correlative studies will be carried out using observations from existing monitoring stations in Greenland and other polar regions.[1]


The spacecraft was launched, on 23 February 1999 at 10:29:55 UTC, from the Vandenberg Air Force Base SLC-2W pad, as an auxiliary payload into a near-sun synchronous elliptical polar orbit, it had a perigee of 630 kilometres (390 mi), an apogee of 850 kilometres (530 mi), an inclination of 96.1, and an orbital period of 100.0 minutes, and nodal drift rate 0.76°/day. It is gravity-gradient stabilized, with its extendable 8 metres (26 ft) boom aligned to and pointing away from the center of the Earth. Active attitude control is achieved using three-axis magnetic torquing coils. The data system features onboard monitoring and pre-processing. Data is stored in a 16 Mbyte on-board memory and downlinked in a packetized format when a ground station is in view.[2]

In 2010, Ørsted passed within 500 meters of debris from the 2009 satellite collision but suffered no damage.[5]

Based on data from the Ørsted satellite, researchers from the Danish Space Research Institute concluded that the Earth's magnetic poles are moving, and that the speed with which they are moving has been increasing for the past few years. This apparent acceleration indicates that the Earth's magnetic field might be in the process of reversing, which could have serious consequences for land-based biological life. The results have been published in several prominent scientific journals, and printed on the cover pages of Geophysical Research Letters,[6] Nature,[7] and Eos.[8]

Ørsted was the first in a planned sequence of microsatellites to be flown under the now discontinued Danish Small Satellite Programme.

After more than twenty years in orbit, the Ørsted satellite is still operational, and continues to downlink accurate measurements of the Earth's magnetic field. Ørsted was constructed by a team of Danish space companies, of which CRI was prime contractor. CRI was acquired by Terma A/S before Ørsted was launched, and the daily operations are run jointly by Terma A/S and the Danish Meteorological Institute.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Oersted: Display 1999-008B". NASA. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b "Oersted: Trajectory 1999-008B". NASA. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 2 May 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Oxborrow, Carol Anne (13 January 2015). "Stellar navigation - DTU Space". Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Oersted: Experiment 1999-008B". NASA. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 2 May 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Purucker, M., Langlais, B., Olsen, N., Hulot, G. & Mandea, M.: The southern edge of cratonic North America: Evidence from new satellite magnetometer observations, Geophys.Res.Lett., 29(15), 8000, doi:10.1029/2001GL013645, 2002 [part of a special issue on results from the Ørsted satellite. Plate 3 from this paper is the cover of a special Ørsted issue on August 1, 2002 (Issue #15).]
  7. ^ Hulot, G., Eymin, C., Langlais, B., Mandea, M. & Olsen, N.: Small-scale structure of the geodynamo inferred from Oersted and Magsat satellite data, Nature, Volume 416, Issue 6881, pp. 620-623 (April 2002)
  8. ^ Neubert, T., Mandea, M., Hulot, G., von Frese, R., Primdahl, F., Jørgensen, J.L., Friis-Christensen, E., Stauning, P., Olsen, N. & Risbo, T.: Ørsted Satellite Captures High-Precision Geomagnetic Field Data, EOS, Vol. 82, No. 7, pp. 81, 87-88, Feb. 13, 2001
This page was last edited on 19 October 2020, at 18:01
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