Mission ObjectivesDouble Star is the first mission launched by China to explore the Earth's magnetosphere - the magnetic bubble that surrounds our planet.
Mission NameAs its name suggests, Double Star involves two satellites - each designed, developed, launched, and operated by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). The two spacecraft are called TC-1 and TC-2, where TC stands for 'Tan Ce' which means 'Explorer'.
SpacecraftEach DSP spacecraft is cylindrical with a 1400 mm height and 2100 mm diameter and is spin-stabilised at 15 rpm. The height of the body-mounted solar array is 740 mm. The configuration of the spacecraft is with two 2.5 m experimental rigid booms and two axial telecommunication antenna booms.
Equatorial Double Star
Polar Double Star
(* Instrument originated in China)
The Equatorial spacecraft (TC-1) was launched into an elliptical orbit of 570 x 78 970 kilometres, inclined at 28.5° to the equator on 29 December 2003. This enables it to investigate the Earth's huge magnetic tail, the region where particles are accelerated towards the planet's magnetic poles by a process known as reconnection. TC-1's nominal period of operations is expected to be 18 months.
The Polar satellite (TC-2) was launched 25 July 2004 into a polar orbit of 700 x 39 000 kilometres. Its instruments will concentrate on the physical processes taking place over the magnetic poles and the development of auroras. It is expected to operate for at least one year.
Operations CentreData is relayed to the ESA ground station at Villafranca, Spain, and the Chinese ground stations in Beijing and Shanghai, China.