The advent of small, inexpensive satellite missions is enabling investigations of atmospheric regions that were previously too low for in-situ studies by orbital spacecraft. In particular, thermospheric domains in which ion-neutral coupling is a dominant factor are becoming more accessible than ever before. Missions focusing on these regions can address new and interesting science questions in all latitude domains, but to realize this goal the instruments must be compatible with the smaller volume, power, and telemetry constraints inherent in small satellite systems. This talk will describe the author’s work to adapt current state-of-the-art plasma and neutral instrumentation for small satellite platforms, including CubeSats. The form and function of several different instruments will be described, and data will be presented to illustrate some of the intriguing science questions that can be studied with this new class of instruments.

The Speaker

Gregory D. Earle is a Professor in the Center for Space Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. He graduated from Cornell University in 1988 to join Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), where he worked on over-the-horizon radar systems, hollow-cathode plasma sources, and chemical release rocket experiments. In 1996 he left SAIC to join the faculty at UT Dallas, where he is now the graduate program chair and associate department head in the physics department. His recent work has primarily concentrated on instrument development for satellite and rocket studies of low and mid-latitude ionospheric dynamics. He is a co-investigator on the C/NOFS satellite, and is spear-heading the CubeSat development effort at UT Dallas.