Enabling Validation of a CubeSat Compatible Wind Sensor

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


The Ram Energy Distribution Detector (REDD) is a new CubeSat-compatible space science instrument that measures neutral wind characteristics in the upper atmosphere. Neutral gas interactions with plasma in the ionosphere/thermosphere are responsible for spacecraft drag, radio frequency disturbances such as scintillation, and other geophysical phenomena. REDD is designed to collect in-situ measurements within this region of the atmosphere where in-flight data collection using spacecraft has proven particularly challenging due to both the atmospheric density and the dominating presence of highly reactive atomic oxygen (AO). NASA Marshall Space Flight Center has a unique AO Facility (AOF) capable of simulating the conditions the sensor will encounter on orbit by creating a supersonic neutral beam of AO. Collimating the beam requires an intense magnetic field that creates significant interference for sensitive electronic devices. REDD is undergoing the final stages of validation testing in the AOF. In this presentation, we describe the LabVIEW-automated system design, the measured geometry and magnitude of the field and the specially designed mount and passive shielding that are utilized to mitigate the effects of the magnetic interference.



CubeSat, Retarding Potential Analyzer, Microchannel Plate Detector, Atomic Oxygen, Validation