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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2019-4
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2019-4
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Mar 2019

Research article | 01 Mar 2019

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

How much solar wind data are sufficient for accurate fluxgate magnetometer offset determinations?

Ferdinand Plaschke Ferdinand Plaschke
  • Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria

Abstract. Accurate magnetic field measurements by fluxgate magnetometers on-board spacecraft require ground and regular in-flight calibrations activities. Therewith, the parameters of a coupling matrix and an offset vector are adjusted; they are needed to transform raw magnetometer outputs into calibrated magnetic field measurements. The components of the offset vector are typically determined by analyzing Alfvénic fluctuations in the solar wind, if solar wind measurements are available. These are characterized by changes in the field components, while the magnetic field modulus stays constant. In this paper, the following question is answered: How much solar wind data are sufficient for accurate fluxgate magnetometer offset determinations? It is found that approximately 50 hours of solar wind data are sufficient to achieve offset accuracies of 0.2 nT, and about 20 hours suffice for accuracies of 0.3 nT or better, if the magnetometer offsets do not drift within these time intervals and if the spacecraft fields do not vary at the sensor position. Offset determinations with uncertainties lower than 0.1 nT, however, would require at least hundreds of hours of solar wind data.

Ferdinand Plaschke
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Status: open (extended)
Status: open (extended)
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Ferdinand Plaschke
Ferdinand Plaschke
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Latest update: 23 Jul 2019
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Short summary
Measuring the magnetic field on-board spacecraft requires regular in-flight calibrations activities. Among those, determining of the output of magnetometers under vanishing ambient magnetic fields, the so-called magnetometer offsets, is essential. Typically, characteristic rotations in solar wind magnetic fields are used to obtain these offsets. This paper addresses the question of how much solar wind data are needed to reach certain accuracy levels in offset determination.
Measuring the magnetic field on-board spacecraft requires regular in-flight calibrations...
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