The electric field instrument on the polar satellite
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The Polar satellite carries a system of four wire booms in the spacecraft spin plane and two rigid booms along the spin axis. Each of the booms has a spherical sensor at its tip along with nearby guard and stub surfaces whose potentials relative to that of their sphere are controlled by associated electronics. The potential differences between opposite sphere pairs are measured to yield the three components of the DC to >1 MHz electric field. Spheres can also be operated in a mode in which their collected current is measured to give information on the plasma density and its fluctuations. The scientific studies to be performed by this experiment as well as the mechanical and electrical properties of the detector system are described.
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