The aim of the Cluster satellite quartet is to investigate the interaction of the Earth's magnetic environment with the solar wind. Launched in 2000, these four satellites fly in formation around the Earth, examining the small scale processes and mechanisms of this interaction. The novel use of four identically equipped satellites enables groundbreaking measurements to provide 3D measurements of the particles and fields in our geospace environment.
Included within the Cluster scientific payload are four instruments that measure the AC electric (EFW, WBD, WHISPER, and STAFF) and AC magnetic (STAFF) fields in various frequency ranges. Very early in the mission planning it was decided that a greater science return from these instruments could be achieved if they were all centrally controlled and synchronised. This lead to the development of a fifth instrument, the Digital Wave Processor (DWP) by the University of Sheffield Space Systems Laboratory.Together, these five instruments comprise the Cluster WaveExperiment Consoritum (WEC).
The Cluster DWP is the control and computing brain for the Wave Experiment Consortium (WEC). It is responsible for the configuration of the other WEC instruments, synchronisation of the sampling, control of the individual nutriment operational modes, data collection, applications processing. In addition, the DWP contains a software correlator application that generates autocorrelation functions of the raw count data from the PEACE HEEA detector.