Measurements of DC and AC electric Fields at low altitudes (less than 150 km) in the Earth's ionosphere address a wide array of important scientific questions including Joule Heating, the closure of field aligned currents, and the deviation of E x B electron velocities from ion velocity vectors influenced by collisions. Double probes represent a well-proven technique for gathering high quality DC and AC electric field measurements for which the design of the boom system is of critical importance for the success of the experiment. In general, ionospheric DC electric field instruments that achieve accuracies of 0.1 mV/m or better, place sensors at large distances from the spacecraft body in order to extend well beyond the spacecraft wake and sheath and to achieve the large signal-to-noise ratios for DC and long wavelength measurements. Additional sets of sensors inboard of the primary, outermost sensors provide useful additional information, both for diagnostics of the plasma contact potentials, which particularly enhance the DC electric field measurements on non-spinning spacecraft, and for wavelength and phase velocity measurements that use the spaced receiver or "Interferometer" technique. Accurate attitude knowledge enables V x B contributions to be subtracted from the measured potentials, and permits the measured components to be rotated into meaningful geophysical reference frames. This presentation discusses the expected performance of electric field double probe experiments and their boom mechanisms on both spinning and non-spinning satellite platforms with very low perigees. Careful selection of probe surface materials, such as titanium nitride, for the low perigee environment, as well as thermal considerations are also discussed.
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
1999 Fall American Geophysical Union Meeting; Jan 01, 1999; San Francisco, CA; United States