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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

An Adaptive Langmuir Probe for CubeSats and Explorers

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

We propose to build an Adaptive Langmuir Probe (ALP) for CubeSats designed to mitigate spacecraft charging unique to small platforms.

This project builds a new controlling circuit for Langmuir probes that can be applied toward CubeSats, explorers, and sounding rockets.  The small surface area of new satellite platforms such as CubeSats relative to the probe collection surface requires that the range of swept voltages be more limited than typically used in sounding rocket and explorer-class missions. The project leverages the existing Langmuir Probe design from recent sounding rocket efforts (VISONS, EVEX, Dynamo) while adding feedback mechanisms to allow the circuit to determine the best range of voltages to sweep over.  An end-to-end test of the probe and circuit will be conducted in a simulated space plasma inside a thermal vacuum chamber.

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