CHAMP - A geoscience mission to "Planet Earth"

 Artis's impression of the CHAMP-Satellite
zum Bild Artis's impression of the CHAMP-Satellite

Launch: 15 July 2000, 2p.m. CEST
End: 19 September 2010, 12.10p.m. CEST

Conceived at the Potsdam GeoResearch Centre, CHAMP (Challenging Minisatellite Payload) is a research satellite which, operating from a near-Earth orbit, made important contributions towards the exploration of the Earth’s magnetic and gravitational field as well as for atmospheric physics. It provided reference data of hitherto unattained accuracy for geodesy, new insights in geophysics and oceanography, and contributions to climate research. The measurements it made of the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field from the extremely low altitude of its last flight phase are unique.

Equipped with seven scientific instruments, the satellite was originally designed for a life of five years. Thanks to its robust technology and favourable "space weather conditions", the life of the satellite was eventually more than twice as long. During its entire active period, it was controlled and its data received by DLR’s German Space Operations Centre at Oberpfaffenhofen. On 19 September 2010, at 10.26 a.m., two hours before the satellite burned up, the ground station succeeded in making contact with it for the last time, successfully retrieving the data that were buffered on board.

The CHAMP research satellite is a project of the Potsdam GeoResearch Centre (GFZ) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). Equipment was provided by international partners from the USA and France. Jena-Optronik GmbH (JOP) was responsible for the construction of the satellite.

Mission parameters

Launch 15. July 2000, 2 p.m. CEST
Site Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia
Launcher Russian COSMOS rocket
Orbital height 460 km,
gradually diminishing over the years
Scheduled mission duration 5 years
Actual mission duration 10 years and 2 months
Last ground contact 19. September 2010, 10.26 a.m. CEST
at 150 km altitude
End by atmospheric re-entry

19. September 2010, 12.10 p.m. CEST
above the Sea of Okhotsk (56°N, 149°O)

Dr. Achim Friker
German Aerospace Center

Space Administration
, Earth Observation
Tel: +49 228 447-397

Fax: +49 228 447-747

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CHAMP-Broschüre (
Plesetsk - Kosmodrom im russischen Norden (