Magnetic Field Instruments for the Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer
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The FAST magnetic field investigation incorporates a tri-axial fluxgate magnetometer for DC and low-frequency (ULF) magnetic field measurements, and an orthogonal three-axis searchcoil system for measurement of structures and waves corresponding to ELF and VLF frequencies. One searchcoil sensor is sampled up to 2 MHz to capture the magnetic component of auroral kilomctric radiation (AKR). Because of budget, weight, power and telemetry considerations, the fluxgate was given a single gain state, with a 16-bit dynamic range of ±65536 nT and 2 nT resolution. With a wide variety of FAST fields instrument telemetry modes, the fluxgate output effective bandwidth is between 0.2 and 25 Hz, depending on the mode. The searchcoil telemetry products include burst waveform capture with 4- and 16-kHz bandwidth, continuous 512-point FFTs of the ELF/VLF band (16 kHz Nyquist) provided by a digital signal processing chip, and swept frequency analysis with a 1-MHz bandwidth. The instruments are operating nominally. Early results have shown that downward auroral field-aligned currents, well-observed over many years on earlier missions, are often carried by accelerated electrons at altitudes above roughly 2000 km in the winter auroral zone. The estimates of current from derivatives of the field data agree with those based on flux from the electrons. Searchcoil observations help constrain the degree to which, for example, ion cyclotron emissions are electrostatic.
KeywordsSpin Axis Auroral Zone Search Coil Fluxgate Magnetometer Spin Plane
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