An Ad-hoc Satellite Network to Measure Filamentary Current Structures in the Auroral Zone

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Theodore A Fritz, Joshua L Semeter and Cody Nabong, Boston Univ, Boston, MA, United States
An ad-hoc cubesat-based satellite network project known as ANDESITE is under development at Boston University. It aims to develop a dense constellation of easy-to-use, rapidly-deployable low-cost wireless sensor nodes in space. The objectives of the project are threefold: 1) Demonstrate viability of satellite based sensor networks by deploying an 8-node miniature sensor network to study the filamentation of the field aligned currents in the auroral zones of the Earth’s magnetosphere. 2) Test the scalability of proposed protocols, including localization techniques, tracking, data aggregation, and routing, for a 3 dimensional wireless sensor network using a “flock” of nodes. 3) Construct a 6U Cube-sat running the Android OS as an integrated constellation manager, data mule and sensor node deplorer. This small network of sensor nodes will resolve current densities at different spatial resolutions in the near-Earth magnetosphere using measurements from magnetometers with 1-nT sensitivities and 0.2 nT/√Hz self-noise. Mapping of these currents will provide new constraints for models of auroral particle acceleration, wave-particle interactions, ionospheric destabilization, and other kinetic processes operating in the low-beta plasma of the near Earth magnetosphere.