WIND (spacecraft)

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The first of NASA's Global Geospace Science (GGS) program.
Operator NASA
Major contractors Martin Marietta
Mission type Space probe
Launch date 04:31:00 EST
Launch vehicle Delta II[1]
Launch site Cape Canaveral SLC-17
Mission duration Minimum: 3 year[1]
Elapsed: 27 years, 9 months and 11 days
Satellite of Sun
Orbital insertion date 2004
Orbits L1 Lagrangian point
COSPAR ID 1994-071A
Mass Dry: 895 kg
Propellant: 300 kg[1]
Orbital elements
Eccentricity 0.0
Main instruments EPACT,[2] MFI,[3] Konus,[4] SMS,[5] SWE,[6] 3DP,[7] TGRS,[8] and WAVES [9]
Project logo.

The Global Geospace Science (GGS) Wind satellite is a NASA science spacecraft launched at 04:31:00 EST on November 1, 1994 from launch pad 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Merritt Island, Florida aboard a McDonnell Douglas Delta II 7925-10 rocket. Wind was designed and manufactured by Martin Marietta Astro Space Division in East Windsor, New Jersey. The satellite is a spin stabilized cylindrical satellite with a diameter of 2.4 m and a height of 1.8 m.[1]

It was deployed to study radio and plasma that occur in the solar wind and in the Earth's magnetosphere before the solar wind reaches the Earth. The spacecraft's original mission was to orbit the Sun at the L1 Lagrangian point, but this was delayed when the SOHO and ACE spacecraft were sent to the same location. Wind has been at L1 continuously since 2004, and is still operating as of June 27, 2015.[10] Wind currently has enough fuel to last roughly 53 years at L1. Wind continues to produce relevant research, with its data having contributed to over 1400 publications since 2009 and over 2200 publications prior to 2009. As of February 10, 2015 (not including 2015 publications), the total number of publications either directly or indirectly using Wind data is ~3646.[10] Note that many of these publications utilized Wind data indirectly by citing the OMNI dataset at CDAWeb, which relies heavily upon Wind measurements.

Mission operations are conducted from the Multi-Mission Operations Center (MMOC) in Building 14 at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Wind data can be accessed using the SPEDAS software.

Wind is the sister ship to GGS Polar.

The science objectives of the Wind mission

  • Provide complete plasma, energetic particle, and magnetic field input for magnetospheric and ionospheric studies.
  • Determine the magnetospheric output to interplanetary space in the up-stream region.
  • Investigate basic plasma processes occurring in the near-Earth solar wind.
  • Provide baseline ecliptic plane observations to be used in heliospheric latitudes from ULYSSES.

The science instruments on the Wind spacecraft

The aim of ISTP is to understand the behavior of the solar-terrestrial plasma environment in order to predict how the Earth's atmosphere will respond to changes in solar wind conditions. Wind's objective is to measure the properties of the solar wind before it reaches the Earth. The Wind spacecraft has an array of instruments including: Konus,[4] the Wind Magnetic Field Investigation (MFI),[3] the Solar Wind and Suprathermal Ion Composition Experiment (SMS),[5] The Energetic Particles: Acceleration, Composition, and Transport (EPACT) investigation,[2] the Solar Wind Experiment (SWE),[6] a Three-Dimensional Plasma and Energetic Particle Investigation (3DP),[7] the Transient Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (TGRS),[8] and the Radio and Plasma Wave Investigation (WAVES).[9] The Konus and TGRS instruments are primarily for gamma-ray and high energy photon observations of solar flares or gamma-ray bursts. The SMS experiment measures the mass and mass-to-charge ratios of heavy ions. The SWE and 3DP experiments are meant to measure/analyze the lower energy (below 10 MeV) solar wind protons and electrons. The WAVES and MFI experiments were designed to measure the electric and magnetic fields observed in the solar wind. All together, the Wind spacecraft's suite of instruments allows for a complete description of plasma phenomena in the solar wind plane of the ecliptic.


Time domain sampler

The electric field detectors of the Wind WAVES instrument [9] are composed of three orthogonal electric field dipole antennas, two in the spin plane (roughly the plane of the ecliptic) of the spacecraft and one along the spin axis. The complete WAVES suite of instruments includes five total receivers including: Low Frequency FFT receiver called FFT (0.3 Hz to 11 kHz), Thermal Noise Receiver called TNR (4–256 kHz), Radio receiver band 1 called RAD1 (20–1040 kHz), Radio receiver band 2 called RAD2 (1.075-13.825 MHz), and the Time Domain Sampler called TDS (designed and built by the University of Minnesota). The longer of the two spin plane antenna, defined as Ex, is 100 m tip-to-tip while the shorter, defined as Ey, is 15 m tip-to-tip. The spin axis dipole, defined as Ez, is roughly 12 m tip-to-tip. When accounting for spacecraft potential, these antenna lengths are adjusted to ~41.1 m, ~3.79 m, and ~2.17 m [Note: these are subject to change and only estimates and not necessarily accurate to two decimal places]. The Wind WAVES instrument also detects magnetic fields using three orthogonal search coil magnetometers (designed and built by the University of Iowa). The XY search coils are oriented to be parallel to the XY dipole antenna. The search coils allow for high-frequency magnetic field measurements (defined as Bx, By, and Bz). The WAVES Z-Axis is anti-parallel to Z-GSE (Geocentric Solar Ecliptic) direction. Thus any rotations can be done about the Z-Axis in the normal Eulerian sense followed by a change of sign in the Z-component of any GSE vector rotated into WAVES coordinates.

Electric (and magnetic) field waveform captures can be obtained from the Time Domain Sampler (TDS) receiver.[9] TDS samples are a waveform capture of 2048 points (16384 points on the STEREO spacecraft) per field component. The waveforms are measures of electric field versus time. In the highest sampling rates, the Fast (TDSF) sampler runs at ~120,000 samples per second (sps) and the Slow (TDSS) sampler runs at ~7,500 sps. TDSF samples are composed of two electric field components (typically Ex and Ey) while TDSS samples are composed of four vectors, either three electric and one magnetic field or three magnetic and one electric field. The TDSF receiver has little to no gain below about ~120 Hz and the search coil magnetometers roll off around ~3.3 Hz.[11]

Thermal Noise Receiver

The TNR measures ~4–256 kHz electric fields in up to 5 logarithmically spaced frequency bands, though typically only set at 3 bands, from 32 or 16 channels per band, with a 7 nV/(Hz)1/2 sensitivity, 400 Hz to 6.4 kHz bandwidth, and total dynamic range in excess of 100 dB.[9] The data are taken by two multi-channel receivers which nominally sample for 20 ms at a 1 MHz sampling rate (see [9] for more information). The TNR is often used to determine the local plasma density by observing the plasma line, an emission at the local plasma frequency due to a thermal noise response of the wire dipole antenna. One should note that observation of the plasma line requires the dipole antenna to be longer than the local Debye length, λDe.[12] For typical conditions in the solar wind λDe ~ 7–20 m, much shorter than the wire dipole antenna on Wind. The majority of this section was taken from.[11]


The Wind/3DP instrument (designed and built at the Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory) was designed to make full three-dimensional measurements of the distributions of suprathermal electrons and ions in the solar wind. The instrument includes three arrays, each consisting of a pair of double-ended semi-conductor telescopes each with two or three closely sandwiched passivated ion implanted silicon detectors, which measure electrons and ions above ~20 keV. The instrument also has top-hat symmetrical spherical section electrostatic (ES) analyzers with microchannel plate detectors (MCPs) are used to measure ions and electrons from ~3 eV to 30 keV.[7] The two types of detectors have energy reions ranging from ΔE/E ≈ 0.3 for the solid state telescopes (SST) and ΔE/E ≈ 0.2 for the top-hat ES analyzers. The angular resolutions are 22.5° x 36° for the SST and 5.6° (near the ecliptic) to 22.5° for the top-hat ES analyzers. The particle detectors can obtain a full 4π steradian coverage in one full(half) spin (~3 s) for the SST (top-hat ES analyzers). The majority of this section was taken from.[11]

Electrostatic analyzers

The arrays of detectors are mounted on two opposing booms, each 0.5 m in length. The top-hat ES analyzers are composed of four separate detectors, each with different geometry factors to cover different ranges of energies. The electron detectors, EESA, and ion detectors, PESA, are each separated into low (L) and high (H) energy detectors. The H and L analyzers contain 24 and 16 discrete anodes, respectively. The anode layout provides a 5.6° angular resolution within ±22.5° of the ecliptic plane (increases to 22.5° at normal incidence to ecliptic plane). The analyzers are swept logarithmically in energy and counters sample at 1024 samples/spin (~3 ms sample period). Thus the analyzers can be set to sample 64 energy samples per sweep at 16 sweeps per spin or 32 energy samples per sweep at 32 sweeps per spin,etc. The detectors are defined as follows:

  • EESA Low (EL): covers electrons from ~3 eV to ~1 keV (These values vary from moment structure to moment structure depending on duration of data sampling, spacecraft potential, and whether in burst or survey mode. The typical range is ~5 eV to ~1.11 keV.[11]) with an 11.25° spin phase resolution. EL has a total geometric factor of 1.3 x 10−2 E cm2-sr (where E is energy in eV) with a nearly identical 180° field of view (FOV), radial to the spacecraft, to that of PESA-L.
  • EESA High (EH): covers electrons from ~200 eV to ~30 keV (though typical values vary from a minimum of ~137 eV to a maximum of ~28 keV) in a 32 sample energy sweep each 11.25° of spacecraft spin. EH has a total geometric factor of 2.0 x 10−1 E cm2-sr, MCP efficiency of about 70% and grid transmission of about 73%. EH has a 360° planar FOV tangent to the spacecraft surface which can be electro statically deflected into a cone up to ±45° out of its normal plane.
  • PESA Low (PL): covers ions with a 14 sample energy sweep (Note that in survey mode the data structures typically take 25 data points at 14 different energies while in burst mode they take 64 data points at 14 different energies.) from ~100 eV to ~10 keV (often energies range from ~700 eV to ~6 keV) each 5.6° of spacecraft spin. PL has a total geometric factor of only 1.6 x 10−4 E cm2-sr but an identical energy-angle response to that of PESA-H. While in the solar wind, PL reorients itself along the bulk flow direction to capture the solar wind flow which results in a narrow range of pitch-angle coverage.
  • PESA High (PH): covers ions with a 15 sample energy sweep from as low as ~80 eV to as high as ~30 keV (typical energy range is ~500 eV to ~28 keV [11]) each 11.25° of spacecraft (Note that PH has multiple data modes where the number of data points per energy bin can be any of the following: 121, 97, 88, 65, or 56.). PH has a total geometric factor of 1.5 x 10−2 E cm2-sr with a MCP efficiency of about 50% and grid entrance post transmission of about 75%.

The majority of this section was taken from.[11]

Solid-state telescopes

The SST detectors consist of three arrays of double-ended telescopes, each of which is composed of either a pair or triplet of closely sandwiched semi-conductor detectors. The center detector (Thick or T) of the triplet is 1.5 cm2 in area, 500 μm thick, while the other detectors, foil (F) and open (O), are the same area but only 300 μm thick. One direction of the telescopes is covered in a thin lexan foil, ~1500 Å of aluminum evaporated on each side to completely eliminate sunlight, (SST-Foil) where the thickness was chosen to stop protons up to the energy of electrons (~400 keV). Electrons are essentially unaffected by the foil. On the opposite side (SST-Open), a common broom magnet is used to refuse electrons below ~400 keV from entering but leaves the ions essentially unaffected. Thus, if no higher energy particles penetrate the detector walls, the SST-Foil should only measure electrons and the SST-Open only ions. Each double-ended telescope has two 36° x 20° FWHM FOV, thus each end of the five telescopes can cover a 180° x 20° piece of space. Telescope 6 views the same angle to spin axis as telescope 2, but both ends of telescope 2 have a drilled tantalum cover to reduce the geometric factor by a factor of 10 to measure the most intense fluxes. The SST-Foil data structures typically have 7 energy bins each with 48 data points while the SST-Open has 9 energy bins each with 48 data points. Both detectors have energy resolutions of ΔE/E ≈ 30%. The majority of this section was taken from.[11]


The magnetic field instrument (MFI) on board Wind [3] is composed of dual triaxial fluxgate magnetometers. The MFI has a dynamic range of ±4 nT to ±65,536 nT, digital resolution ranging from ±0.001 nT to ±16 nT, sensor noise level of < 0.006 nT (R.M.S.) for 0–10 Hz signals, and sample rates varying from 44 samples per second (sps) in snapshot memory to 10.87 sps in standard mode. The data are also available in averages at 3 seconds, 1 minute, and 1 hour. The data sampled at higher rates (i.e. >10 sps) is referred to as High Time Resolution (HTR) data in some studies.[13][14]


The Wind spacecraft has two Faraday Cup (FC) ion instruments.[6] The SWE FCs can produce reduced ion distribution functions with up to 20 angular and 30 energy per charge bins every 92 seconds.[15] Each sensor has a ~15° tilt above or below the spin plane and an energy range from ~150 eV to ~8 keV. A circular aperture limits the effects of aberration near the modulator grid and defines the collecting area of the collector plates in each FC. The FCs sample at a set energy for each spacecraft rotation, then step up the energy for the next rotation. Since there are up to 30 energy bins for these detectors, a full reduced distribution function requires 30 rotations or slightly more than 90 seconds.

Some discoveries and/or contributions to science by the Wind spacecraft

  1. Observation of relationship between large-scale solar wind-magnetosphere interactions and magnetic reconnection at the terrestrial magnetopause.[16]
  2. First statistical study of high frequency (≥1 kHz) electric field fluctuations in the ramp of interplanetary (IP) shocks.[17] The study found that the amplitude of ion acoustic waves (IAWs) increased with increasing fast mode Mach number and shock compression ratio. They also found that the IAWs had the highest probability of occurrence in the ramp region.
  3. Observation of the largest whistler wave using a search coil magnetometer in the radiation belts.[18][19]
  4. First observation of shocklets upstream of a quasi-perpendicular IP shock.[13]
  5. First simultaneous observations of whistler mode waves with electron distributions unstable to the whistler heat flux instability.[13]
  6. First observation of a electrostatic solitary wave at an IP shock with an amplitude exceeding 100 mV/m.[14]
  7. First observation of electron-Berstein-like waves at an IP shock.[14]
  8. First observation of the source region of an IP Type II radio burst.[20]
  9. First evidence for Langmuir wave coupling to Z-mode waves.[21]
  10. First evidence to suggest that the observed bi-polar ES structures in the shock transition region are consistent with BGK modes or electron phase space holes.[22]
  11. First evidence of a correlation between the amplitude of electron phase space holes and the change in electron temperature.[23]
  12. First evidence of three-wave interactions in the terrestrial foreshock using bi-coherence.[24][25]
  13. First evidence of proton temperature anisotropy constraints due to mirror, firehose, and ion cyclotron instabilities.[26]
  14. First evidence of Alfvén-cyclotron dissipation.[27]
  15. First (shared with STEREO spacecraft) observation of electron trapping by a very large amplitude whistler wave in the radiation belts [28] (also seen in STEREO observations [29] ).
  16. First observation of Langmuir and whistler waves in the lunar wake.[30]
  17. First evidence of direct evidence of electron cyclotron resonance with whistler mode waves driven by a heat flux instability in the solar wind.[31]
  18. First evidence of local field-aligned ion beam generation by foreshock electromagnetic waves called short large amplitude magnetic structures or SLAMS, which are soliton-like waves in the magnetosonic mode.[32]

List of Refereed Publications for Wind

For a complete list of refereed publications directly or indirectly using data from the Wind spacecraft, see:

Science Highlights in the News


  • The Wind Operations Team, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, received the AIAA Space Operations & Support Award on September 2, 2015. The award honors the team's "exceptional ingenuity and personal sacrifice in the recovery of NASA's Wind spacecraft." Jacqueline Snell] - engineering manager for Wind, Geotail, and ACE Missions - accepted the award on behalf of the team. Award Details
  • The Wind Operations Team, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, received the NASA Group Achievement Award for recovery of the Wind spacecraft's command and attitude processor. Award Details

Other names

See also

Lists of relevant topics

Other relevant spacecraft

Relevant organizations

Other relevant topics


[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [33] [34] [35] [31] [32]

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  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Lepping, R.P.; et al. (February 1995). "The Wind Magnetic Field Investigation". Space Science Reviews. 71: 207–229. Bibcode:1995SSRv...71..207L. doi:10.1007/BF00751330.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 Wilson III, L.B. (2010). The microphysics of collisionless shocks. ProQuest Dissertations And Theses. Bibcode:2010PhDT........43W. ISBN 978-1-124-27457-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Meyer-Vernet, N.; Perche, C. (March 1989). "Tool kit for antennae [sic] and thermal noise near the plasma frequency". J. Geophys. Res. 94: 2405–2415. Bibcode:1989JGR....94.2405M. doi:10.1029/JA094iA03p02405.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Wilson III, L.B.; et al. (October 2009). "Low-frequency whistler waves and shocklets observed at quasi-perpendicular interplanetary shocks". J. Geophys. Res. 114: 10106. Bibcode:2009JGRA..11410106W. doi:10.1029/2009JA014376.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Wilson III, L.B.; et al. (December 2010). "Large-amplitude electrostatic waves observed at a supercritical interplanetary shock". J. Geophys. Res. 115: 12104. Bibcode:2010JGRA..11512104W. doi:10.1029/2010JA015332.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 Kasper, J.C.; et al. (March 2006). "Physics-based tests to identify the accuracy of solar wind ion measurements: A case study with the Wind Faraday Cups". J. Geophys. Res. 111: 3105. Bibcode:2006JGRA..11103105K. doi:10.1029/2005JA011442.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 Phan, T.D.; Kistler; Klecker; Haerendel; Paschmann; Sonnerup; Baumjohann; Bavassano-Cattaneo; Carlson; et al. (April 2000). "Extended magnetic reconnection at the Earth's magnetopause from detection of bi-directional jets". Nature. 404 (6780): 848–850. Bibcode:2000Natur.404..848P. doi:10.1038/35009050. PMID 10786785.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 Wilson III, L.B.; et al. (July 2007). "Waves in Interplanetary Shocks: A Wind/WAVES Study". Phys. Rev. Lett. 99 (4): 041101. Bibcode:2007PhRvL..99d1101W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.99.041101. PMID 17678345.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 Wilson III, L.B.; Cattell; Kellogg; Wygant; Goetz; Breneman; Kersten; et al. (January 2011). "A statistical study of the properties of large amplitude whistler waves and their association with few eV to 30 keV electron distributions observed in the magnetosphere by Wind". ArXiv e-prints. 1101: 3303. arXiv:1101.3303. Bibcode:2011arXiv1101.3303W.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 Wilson III, L.B.; et al. (September 2011). "The properties of large amplitude whistler mode waves in the magnetosphere: propagation and relationship with geomagnetic activity". Geophys. Res. Lett. 38 (17): 17107. Bibcode:2011GeoRL..3817107W. doi:10.1029/2011GL048671.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 Bale, S.D.; et al. (June 1999). "The source region of an interplanetary type II radio burst". Geophys. Res. Lett. 26 (11): 1573–1576. Bibcode:1999GeoRL..26.1573B. doi:10.1029/1999GL900293.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 Bale, S.D.; et al. (1998). "Transverse z-mode waves in the terrestrial electron foreshock". Geophys. Res. Lett. 25: 9–12. Bibcode:1998GeoRL..25....9B. doi:10.1029/97GL03493.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 Bale, S.D.; et al. (1998). "Bipolar electrostatic structures in the shock transition region: Evidence of electron phase space holes". Geophys. Res. Lett. 25 (15): 2929–2932. Bibcode:1998GeoRL..25.2929B. doi:10.1029/98GL02111.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links