Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Ryan L. Davidson


Ryan L. Davidson


Charles M. Swenson


Todd K. Moon


Weather prediction, wherever people live, serves as a beneficial part of everyday life. Weather in the upper portions of Earth’s atmosphere also impacts life on Earth but it is not able to be predicted as well as its terrestrial counterpart. PetitSat is a cube satellite (CubeSat) mission proposed to help remedy this issue. It will collect measurements of charged particles in the upper atmosphere called a plasma. The measurements taken by PetitSat will facilitate better prediction of upper-atmospheric weather. Prediction of when and where weather phenomenon will occur will allow avoidance of negative consequences that can result. Once such negative consequence is satellite and over-the-horizon communications interference.

In order to collect these measurements, one of the instruments on PetitSat is a unique combination of two time-tested instruments. The instruments are a retarding potential analyzer (RPA) and an ion drift meter (IDM). Together, they are called the Gridded Retarding Ion Drift Sensor (GRIDS). Work has been done previously in developing firmware and hard-ware for GRIDS. This thesis’ purpose is to document the system level characterization of GRIDS. This will allow the data eventually gathered by GRIDS to be correctly interpreted and show its suitability for the PetitSat mission.