On-board hybrid magnetometer of NASA CHARM-II rocket: principle, design and performances
We present a hybrid tri-axes magnetometer designed to measure weak magnetic fields in space from DC (direct current) up to a few kHz with a better sensitivity than fluxgate magnetometers at frequencies above a few Hz. This magnetometer combines a wire-wound ferromagnetic ribbon and a classical induction sensor. The nature of the wire-wound ferromagnetic ribbon sensor, giant magneto-impedance or magneto-inductance, is discussed. New configurations of wire-wound ferromagnetic ribbon sensors based on closed magnetic circuits are suggested and the hybrid sensor is described. The electronic conditioning of the wire-wound ribbon makes use of an alternating bias field to cancel the offset and linearize the output. Finally we summarize the main performances of the hybrid magnetometer and we discuss its advantages and drawbacks. A prototype has been built and was part of the scientific payload of the NASA rocket experiment CHARM-II (Correlation of High Frequency and Auroral Roar Measurements) launched in the auroral ionosphere. Unfortunately the launch campaign ended without any noticeable magnetic event and the rocket was eventually launched on 16 February 2010, through a very quiescent arc in the magnetic cusp and no wave activity was detected at frequencies observable by the hybrid magnetometer.