Environment monitoring suite on suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicle (sRLV)

PI: H. Todd Smith, Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Lab

This Technology is an evolution from Technology #15: Electromagnetic Field Measurements on sRLV. We propose to improve our initial instrument suite design consisting of modified Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) electric field mill and magnetometer sensors by the addition of a dual frequency Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver with an inertial measurement unit (IMU). The initial experiments will demonstrate the feasibility of making future global electric circuit and water vapor/ionospheric profile measurements on a routine basis to assess the influence of global change on the Earth’s complex electrical environment.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA08 Science Instruments, Observations and Sensor Systems
  • TA11 Modeling, Simulation, Information Technology and Processing
Problem Statement

We intend to demonstrate an instrument suite consisting of modified Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) instruments. This suite combines the previous experiment (electric field mill and magnetometer sensors) with a dual frequency GPS receiver and IMU for observing the environment (with observations and models) inside and in the vicinity of suborbital reusable launch vehicles. The initial objective of this experiment is to characterize the electromagnetic field and inertial environment inside the spacecraft to provide insight and allow for mitigation of possible negative impacts of these conditions on instrumentation as well as payload experiments.

Technology Maturation

This experiment benefits from using COTS instrumentation so that the basic instruments have already been designed, developed and produced and prior to testing. This flight demonstration should raise our instrument package to at least a TRL 8 level and ensure it is ready for operation on the subsequently regularly scheduled flights at higher altitudes.

Future Customers

This instrument suite provides for a wide range of applications for multiple customers. Initially, accurate measurements of the inertial environment and electromagnetic fields around the suborbital reusable launch vehicles are essential for successful operation of many of the types of scientific payloads anticipated to utilize such vehicles. Such information is required to accurately interpret instrument and/or experimental data.

Flight Experiment Objectives

Our proposed objectives are clear, and are primarily driven by the goal of providing basic data, that serves the above purposes under a broad range of sub-orbital test conditions. We assert that accurate position, inertial and EM characterization will provide useful scientific and engineering data under both low and high altitude flights regardless of sensor package placement.

Payload Description

The proposed instrumentation package consists of three components: dual frequency Novatel SPAC-CPT GPS with IMU, a DC electric field measurement using a Campbell Scientific Electric Field Sensor (Model CS110), and fluxgate miniature 3-axis Applied Physics Systems magnetometer (Model 534D) capable of measuring the full vector magnetic field.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    AFO2 (Oct 2011)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    TRL 5
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 sRLV

Development Team

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