Date of Award:

2014

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

Charles Swenson

Abstract

The behavior of the electric and magnetic fields in the upper atmosphere of the Earth is scientifically interesting but difficult to study, since balloons and aircraft are unable to fly high enough to measure it directly. Sounding rockets, which make a one-time flight carrying instruments that measure the environment around them, have been successfully used to study the upper atmosphere. As the rocket flies through the upper atmosphere, it radios down data about the environment. When scientists on the ground use this data to construct a picture of the upper atmosphere, they run into a problem: the fields reported by the rocket change over time, but it is not clear whether this is because these fields are actually changing in time, or just because the rocket has moved to a different place where the fields are different. This inability to determine whether changes are happening in time or space is called the temporal-spatial ambiguity.

This thesis describes the Auroral Spatial Structures Probe (ASSP), a sounding rocket mission that attempts to resolve the temporal-spatial ambiguity by using multiple payloads flying in formation. Several payloads will pass through and measure the same point in space one after another, which will enable us to see how the fields are changing over time.

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