Swept Neutral Pressure Instrument (SNeuPI): Investigating Gravity Waves In The Ionosphere


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Virginia Tech


A swept neutral pressure instrument(SNeuPI) is used to study the effect of gravity waves on the composition of the ionosphere. When mounted on a nanosatellite in the low earth orbit, changes in atmospheric pressure due to gravity waves are measured as the changes in neutral gas density. This measurement is achieved by use of micro-tip emitters as an electron source and micro channel plates(MCPs) as ion collectors. Ionization of the neutral gas produces a current at the output of the MCPs to quantify the pressure of the ionosphere. Traditionally, such measurements are made on larger satellites which enable the use of higher power equipment. This thesis describes the design and use of a low power instrument, to be used on a limited-resource satellite. The background and theoretical analysis is presented first, followed by descriptions of the mechanical and electrical designs. The laboratory tests are limited to a vacuum chamber setup that simulates the conditions of the ionosphere.



Ions, Electrons, Ionization, Space, Vacuum, Ionosphere, CubeSat, Electronics and Digital Design, Satellite