Session

Technical Session I: Mission Payloads

SSC10-I-7.pdf (17897 kB)
Presentation Slides

Abstract

Explicitly separating variations in space from variations in time over a large volume is a current unmet challenge for in situ studies of the ionosphere and aurora. We propose that arrays of many (_ 10) low-resource sensorcraft can address this scientific and technical challenge. We are developing a suborbital CubeSat, RocketCube, to enable low-cost multipoint measurements for orbital and sub-orbital scientific missions. The graduate student-designed RocketCube showcases a new scientific instrument, the Petite Ion Probe (PIP), and an FPGA-based instrumentation and payload bus system designed specifically with the ionosphere in mind. The PIP, a retarding potential analyzer, measures thermal plasma parameters to characterize the ionosphere. In addition to control and data handling, RocketCube’s bus system will allow synchronization of PIP activity between payloads in an array to the order of _1 μs from timing provided by a qualified GPS. As of this writing (June 2010), RocketCube may be repackaged and manifested as a deployable subpayload on the Cornell University MICA (Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling in the Alfvn Resonator) mission scheduled for a winter 2012 sounding rocket launch. Additionally, RocketCube is enabling us to be currently proposing our next scientific sounding rocket mission, called Probe Array Lattice to Investigate Spatial Auroral DEnsity Structuring (Palisades), to NASA’s G/LCAS (Geospace Low Cost Access to Space) program. Palisades will feature an array of 12 subpayloads containing our bus system and two PIPs per payload to study the auroral driving of the ionosphere. This paper provides an overview of RocketCube’s purpose, design, and current status including details of the PIP instrument.

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Aug 9th, 4:29 PM

Low-Resource CubeSat-scale Sensorcraft for Auroral and Ionospheric Plasma Studies

Explicitly separating variations in space from variations in time over a large volume is a current unmet challenge for in situ studies of the ionosphere and aurora. We propose that arrays of many (_ 10) low-resource sensorcraft can address this scientific and technical challenge. We are developing a suborbital CubeSat, RocketCube, to enable low-cost multipoint measurements for orbital and sub-orbital scientific missions. The graduate student-designed RocketCube showcases a new scientific instrument, the Petite Ion Probe (PIP), and an FPGA-based instrumentation and payload bus system designed specifically with the ionosphere in mind. The PIP, a retarding potential analyzer, measures thermal plasma parameters to characterize the ionosphere. In addition to control and data handling, RocketCube’s bus system will allow synchronization of PIP activity between payloads in an array to the order of _1 μs from timing provided by a qualified GPS. As of this writing (June 2010), RocketCube may be repackaged and manifested as a deployable subpayload on the Cornell University MICA (Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling in the Alfvn Resonator) mission scheduled for a winter 2012 sounding rocket launch. Additionally, RocketCube is enabling us to be currently proposing our next scientific sounding rocket mission, called Probe Array Lattice to Investigate Spatial Auroral DEnsity Structuring (Palisades), to NASA’s G/LCAS (Geospace Low Cost Access to Space) program. Palisades will feature an array of 12 subpayloads containing our bus system and two PIPs per payload to study the auroral driving of the ionosphere. This paper provides an overview of RocketCube’s purpose, design, and current status including details of the PIP instrument.