Space technology 5 multi-point measurements of near-Earth magnetic fields: Initial results

Academic Article


  • [1] The Space Technology 5 (ST-5) mission successfully placed three micro-satellites in a 300 × 4500 km dawn-dusk orbit on 22 March 2006. Each spacecraft carried a boom-mounted vector fluxgate magnetometer that returned highly sensitive and accurate measurements of the geomagnetic field. These data allow, for the first time, the separation of temporal and spatial variations in field-aligned current (FAC) perturbations measured in low-Earth orbit on time scales of ∼10 sec to 10 min. The constellation measurements are used to directly determine field-aligned current sheet motion, thickness, and current density. In doing so, we demonstrate two multi-point methods for the inference of FAC current density that have not previously been possible in low-Earth orbit: 1) the “standard method,” based upon s/c velocity, but corrected for FAC current sheet motion, and 2) the “gradiometer method” which uses simultaneous magnetic field measurements at two points with known separation. Future studies will apply these methods to the entire ST-5 data set and expand to include geomagnetic field gradient analyses as well as field-aligned and ionospheric currents.
  • Authors

  • Slavin, JA
  • Le, G
  • Strangeway, RJ
  • Wang, Y
  • Boardsen, SA
  • Moldwin, MB
  • Spence, Harlan
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 25, 2008
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)


  • 35
  • Issue

  • 2