Scientific Discovery and Geomagnetic Monitoring in Earth Orbit Using Small Satellite Systems

Living reference work entry


The field of SmallSats and CubeSats is evolving very rapidly, making this short review of how they are used in geomagnetic monitoring only a snapshot in time. The desire for shorter development times, lower launch costs, and the opportunity to provide a teaching, hands-on environment will keep the momentum for this type of platform going well into the future. It is important to note that SmallSats and CubeSats cannot address all important science objectives and are not a low cost substitute for every application, such as needing large apertures, but where they can produce major results is in simple well focused science, requirements of multipoint observations, or in short duration missions that can be executed under low cost constraints. In particular, these missions are generally within the mass constraints of 1.33 kg per CubeSat unit, e.g., a 3U CubeSat could have a mass of up to 4 kg, up to a maximum of 180 kg for a SmallSat. Despite their smaller mass, volumen, and launch costs they are able to achieve significant scientific results. The quality of experimental space missions is not measured in how large the satellites are but rather the quality of the derived data and their significant contributions to scientific knowledge. This overview will not be a comprehensive list of geomagnetic monitoring missions, also called heliophysics missions, but will discuss a representative set in various development and operational phases.


SmallSats CubeSats Multipoint Observations Heliophysics Magnetic fields Plasma measurements Polar orbit Sun-synchronous orbit 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NASA HeadquartersWashingtonUSA

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