25 Apr 2022
25 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Tesseract – A High-Stability, Low-Noise Fluxgate Sensor Designed for Constellation Applications

Kenton Greene1, Christian Hansen1, B. Barry Narod2, Richard Dvorsky1, and David M. Miles1 Kenton Greene et al.
  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
  • 2Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Abstract. Accurate high-precision magnetic field measurements are a significant challenge for many applications including constellation missions studying space plasmas. Instrument stability and orthogonality are essential to enable meaningful comparison between disparate satellites in a constellation without extensive cross-calibration efforts. Here we describe the design and characterization of Tesseract – a fluxgate magnetometer sensor designed for low-noise, high-stability constellation applications. Tesseract’s design takes advantage of recent developments in the manufacturing of custom low noise fluxgate cores. Six of these custom racetrack fluxgate cores are securely and compactly mounted within a single solid three-axis symmetric base. Tesseract’s feedback windings are configured as a four-square Merritt coil to create a large homogenous magnetic null inside the sensor where the fluxgate cores are held in near-zero field, regardless of the ambient magnetic field, to improve the reliability of the core magnetization cycle. A Biot-Savart simulation is used to optimize the homogeneity of field generated by the feedback Merritt Coils and was verified experimentally to be homogeneous within 0.42 percent along the racetrack cores’ axes; an improvement thirteen times that of the traditional ring-core sensor design. The thermal stability of the feedback windings is measured using an insulated container filled with dry ice inside a coil system. The sensitivity over temperature of the feedback windings is found to be between 13 ppm/°C and 17 ppm/°C. The sensor’s three axes maintain orthogonality to within at most 0.015 degrees over a temperature range of -45 °C to 20 °C; an improvement at least six times that of the ring-core sensor design. Tesseract’s cores achieve a magnetic noise floor of 5 pT/√Hz at one Hz. Tesseract will be flight demonstrated on the ACES-II sounding rockets, currently scheduled to launch in late 2022 and again aboard the TRACERS satellite mission as part of the MAGIC technology demonstration which is currently scheduled to launch in 2023.

Kenton Greene et al.

Status: open (until 31 May 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-220', Mark Moldwin, 10 May 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-220', Hans-Ulrich Auster, 10 May 2022 reply

Kenton Greene et al.

Kenton Greene et al.


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Short summary
The ability to make reliable magnetic measurements in space is very important for a broad range of applications in space science. Here, we present the design and performance of a new magnetometer that looks very promising for making stable reliable magnetic measurements in space. We show that the Tesseract performs better than the traditional ring-core design in metrics that are associated with stability.