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Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 07 Mar 2019

Submitted as: research article | 07 Mar 2019

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

Daedalus: A Low-Flying Spacecraft for the Exploration of the Lower Thermosphere - Ionosphere

Theodoros E. Sarris1, Elsayed R. Talaat2, Minna Palmroth3, Iannis Dandouras4, Errico Armandillo5,a, Guram Kervalishvili6, Stephan Buchert7, David Malaspina8, Allison Jaynes9, Nikolaos Paschalidis10, John Sample11, Jasper Halekas9, Stylianos Tourgaidis1, Vaios Lappas12, Mark Clilverd13, Qian Wu14, Ingmar Sandberg15, Anita Aikio16, and Panagiotis Pirnaris1 Theodoros E. Sarris et al.
  • 1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi, 67132, Greece
  • 2National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, MD, 20910, USA
  • 3University of Helsinki, Helsinki, 00014, Finland
  • 4IRAP, Université de Toulouse/CNRS/UPS/CNES, Toulouse, 31028, France
  • 5space engineering consultant: The Netherlands
  • 6GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, 14473, Germany
  • 7Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala, 75121, Sweden
  • 8Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, 80303, USA
  • 9University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 52242-1479, USA
  • 10NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, 20771, USA
  • 11Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, 59717-2220, USA
  • 12Athena Research & InnovationCentre, Amarousio Athens, 15125, Greece
  • 13British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, CB30ET, UK
  • 14High Altitude Observatory, NCAR, Boulder, CO, 80307-3000, USA
  • 15Space Applications & Research Consultancy (SPARC), Athens, 10677, Greece
  • 16University of Oulu, Ionospheric Physics Unit, Oulu, 90014, Finland
  • aformerly at: ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk

Abstract. The Daedalus mission has been proposed to the European Space Agency (ESA) in response to the call for ideas for the Earth Observation programme's 10th Earth Explorer. It was selected in 2018 as one of three candidates for a Phase-0 feasibility study. The goal of the mission is to quantify the key electrodynamic processes that determine the structure and composition of the upper atmosphere, the gateway between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. An innovative preliminary mission design allows Daedalus to access electrodynamics processes down to altitudes of 150 km and below. Daedalus will perform in-situ measurements of plasma density and temperature, ion drift, neutral density and wind, ion and neutral composition, electric and magnetic fields and precipitating particles. These measurements will unambiguously quantify the amount of energy deposited in the upper atmosphere during active and quiet geomagnetic times via Joule heating and energetic particle precipitation, estimates of which currently vary by orders of magnitude between models. An innovation of the Daedalus preliminary mission concept is that it includes the release of sub-satellites at low altitudes: combined with the main spacecraft, these sub-satellites will provide multi-point measurements throughout the Lower Thermosphere-Ionosphere region, down to altitudes below 120 km, in the heart of the most under-explored region in the Earth's atmosphere. This paper describes Daedalus as originally proposed to ESA.

Theodoros E. Sarris et al.
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Theodoros E. Sarris et al.
Theodoros E. Sarris et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Daedalus targets to measure the largely unexplored area between Earth's atmosphere and space. Here, intriguing and complex processes govern the deposition, transformation and transport of energy. The aim is to quantify this energy by measuring, for example, effects caused by electrodynamic processes in this region. The concept is based on a mother satellite which carries a suite of instruments along with smaller satellites carrying a subset of instruments that are released into the atmosphere.
Daedalus targets to measure the largely unexplored area between Earth's atmosphere and space....