Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Ryan Davidson


Mankind's ability to predict weather on earth has been greatly enhanced by new instrumentation technology. Similarly, mankind's ability to predict space weather benefits from new technologies. Just as increasing the amount of atmospheric measurements on earth heightened mankind's ability to predict Earth weather, many scientists expect that expanding the amount of plasma measurements in space could be key to enhancing mankind's ability to predict space weather. Small satellites are one of these new technologies that have the potential to greatly enhance our ability to predict space weather. Utilizing many low-cost small satellites allows scientists to take data from more locations than possible with a few high-cost large satellites.

Two instruments that have historic use measuring plasma are the Retarding Potential Analyzer and the Ion Drift Meter. Previous work has been done to combine the functionality from both of these instruments into one unit suitable for a small satellite in terms of size, power, and mass. An electrical and mechanical design has been completed to this end and this new instrument is called the Gridded Retarding Ion Distribution Sensor. This thesis describes the design and testing of the FPGA code that runs this new instrument.