Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Charles M. Swenson


Langmuir probes are extensively employed to study the plasmas in space and laboratory environments. Successful measurements require a comprehensive modeling of both the plasma environment and the probe conditions in the form of current collection models. In this thesis, the surface morphology implications on the probe current collection are investigated. This problem is applied and solved in the context of a CubeSat regime. The first problem that is investigated is the consequence of surface structural variability on the current measurements. A new model for dealing with non-uniformity of the probe surface structure is developed in this paper. This model is applied to analyze the Langmuir probe data from a sounding rocket mission that was subjected to surface structural non-homogeneities. This model would be particularly useful for CubeSat platforms where elaborate probe design procedures are not feasible. The second problem that is investigated is the surface area implications on Langmuir probe measurements. It has been established that surface area ratio of the spacecraft to that of the probe needs to be sufficiently large to make successful plasma measurements. CubeSats would therefore pose a challenge for employing Langmuir-type instruments to study the space plasma. We inspect the feasibility of making plasma measurements using Langmuir probes subjected to CubeSat area constraints. This analysis is done for a forthcoming Utah State University (USU)/Space Dynamics Lab (SDL) CubeSat mission.


This work made publicly available electronically on May 11, 2011.