News & CommentEuropean Space Science

New Launcher to Lift Off With Armada of Plasma Probes

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Science  24 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5265, pp. 1095-1096
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5265.1095a


Brussels—Next week, if all goes according to plan, Europe will launch the first of its new Ariane 5 rockets. But this event marks more than just the inauguration of a new launcher; it will also be a milestone in the European Space Agency's (ESA's) science program. Ariane 5's first payload consists of four identical satellites, collectively known as Cluster, which will fly in formation around Earth studying in unprecedented detail its magnetosphere and the solar wind which pounds it around the clock. Cluster and SOHO, a solar observatory ESA launched last December, together form the first large “cornerstone” mission of ESA's ambitious Horizon 2000 space science program.