Invitation to attend the presentation of a Cluster II model to the Lord Mayor of Bristol and an update on the Cluster II scientific results. The model presentation results from the fact that a Bristol family won a European competition to name the four spacecraft that make up the Cluster II mission.

When: Monday 16th July 2001
Where:The Mansion House (Lord Mayor’s Office), Clifton Down, Bristol
Time: 2-4 p.m.
Media Opportunities: The presentation of the Cluster II Model will provide an interesting photo opportunity. Key scientists will be available for interview along with newly elected Lord Mayor of Bristol and the Cotton Family.

The Cluster II mission is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) programme to study the effect of the Sun on space weather. Monday 16th July 2001 marks the first anniversary of the launch of the first pair of spacecraft (the second pair were launched on 9th August 2000). Since their launch the four spacecraft have been gathering new information on the effects of the solar wind on the earth’s magnetosphere and this event presents an opportunity to find out the status of the mission one year on.

Prior to the launch of Cluster II the ESA held a competition to name the four spacecraft. This was won by Mr Ray Cotton of Bristol who came up with the names Tango, Salsa, Samba and Rumba. As part of his prize Mr Cotton and his family visited the operations centre in Germany to watch the launch live and the headquarters of the ESA in Paris. A further part of the prize is to present the home town or city of the winner a 1: 10 scale model of the four Cluster II spacecraft.

Professor David Southwood, ESA’s Director of Science, will present the model to the newly elected Lord Mayor of Bristol, the Rt. Hon Councillor Brenda Hugill and the Cotton family, who will be accepting it on behalf of the City of Bristol.

British Scientists, funded through the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), built and operate three of the eleven instruments on board each spacecraft and will give an update on the science results, along with key scientists from the ESA.

Event Programme

2.00 p.m. Introduction from Professor Richard Wade, Director of Programmes, Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council

Brief overview of Cluster II from Professor David Southwood, Director of Science, European Space Agency.

Cluster II … One year On from Dr Phillipe Escoubet, Cluster Project Scientist (ESA)

Further updates from UK Scientists Dr Hugo Alleyne (Sheffield University) and Professor Manuel Grande (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)

3.00 p.m.       Presentation of the Cluster II model by Professor David Southwood (ESA) to the Lord Mayor of Bristol and the Cotton family
Followed by refreshments and photo and interview opportunities with all.

Further press notice to be issued next week


Gill Ormrod
PPARC Press Office
01793 442012

Notes for Editors

For further information please contact:

Gill Ormrod
PPARC Press Office
Tel: 01793 442012

Background Information

The orbit of the four Cluster spacecraft is very unusual; it passes over the polar regions and will reach up to 100,000km up into space – that’s a third of the way to the moon.

The Cluster mission is part of an integrated series of experiments to learn more about how the Sun affects our Earth. Cluster will join the SOHO, POLAR, GEOTAIL, WIND and INTERBALL missions that are already looking at different aspects of the Sun’s influence on Earth. The ground-based radar’s CUTLASS and EISCAT in the arctic are also working to learn more about the complex interactions in the upper atmosphere caused by the solar wind and solar storms.

Solar storms occur when huge bursts of highly charged particles are thrown out from the Sun and hurtle towards Earth. These invisible storms of particles buffet and churn up the Earth’s magnetic and plasma environment causing the aurorae (Northern and Southern lights) and are a threat to satellites in near-Earth space.

The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK’s strategic science investment agency. It funds research, education and public understanding in four broad areas of science – particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science.

PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, CERN, and the European Space Agency. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility.

PPARC’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology Awards Scheme provides funding to both small local projects and national initiatives aimed at improving public understanding of its areas of science.