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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 31 Aug 2018

Research article | 31 Aug 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems (GI).

Advanced calibration of magnetometers on spin-stabilized spacecraft based on parameter decoupling

Ferdinand Plaschke1, Hans-Ulrich Auster2, David Fischer1, Karl-Heinz Fornaçon2, Werner Magnes1, Ingo Richter2, Dragos Constantinescu2, and Yasuhito Narita1 Ferdinand Plaschke et al.
  • 1Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria
  • 2Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics, Braunschweig University of Technology, Braunschweig, Germany

Abstract. Magnetometers are key instruments onboard spacecraft that probe the plasma environments of planets and other solar system bodies. The linear conversion of raw magnetometer outputs to fully calibrated magnetic field measurements requires the accurate knowledge of 12 calibration parameters: 6 angles, 3 gain factors, and 3 offset values. The in-flight determination of 8 of those 12 parameters is enormously supported if the spacecraft is spin stabilized, as an incorrect choice of those parameters will lead to systematic spin harmonic disturbances in the calibrated data. We show that published equations and algorithms for the determination of the 8 spin-related parameters are far from optimal, as they do not take into account the physical behavior of science-grade magnetometers and the influence of a varying spacecraft attitude on the in-flight calibration process. Here, we address these issues. Based on decades-long developments and experience in calibration activities at the Braunschweig University of Technology, we introduce advanced calibration equations, parameters, and algorithms. With their help, it is possible to decouple different effects on the calibration parameters, originating from the spacecraft or the magnetometer itself. A key point of the algorithms is the bulk determination of parameters and associated uncertainties. Lowest uncertainties are expected under parameter specific conditions. By application to THEMIS-C magnetometer measurements, we show where these conditions are fulfilled along a highly elliptical orbit around Earth.

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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The raw output of spacecraft magnetometers has to be converted into meaningful units and coordinate systems, before it is usable for scientific applications. This conversion is defined by 12 calibration parameters, 8 of which are more easily determined in flight if the spacecraft is spinning. We present theory and advanced algorithms to determine these 8 parameters. They take into account the physical magnetometer/spacecraft behavior, making them superior to previously published algorithms.
The raw output of spacecraft magnetometers has to be converted into meaningful units and...