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Last Post 10/22/2010 12:33 PM by  Kris Sigsbee
NASA´s inventions
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10/22/2010 12:51 AM

    My students would like to know a pair of questions: What inventions are you working on? and How and what can you see things out in our Solar System?Thank you

    Tags: solar system, inventions

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/22/2010 12:33 PM


    I wouldn't exactly say that I am working on a new "invention," but I have done some work that will hopefully improve existing designs for instruments that will be flown on future NASA missions. I have been running computer simulations of the Electron Drift Instrument (EDI) that will be flown on the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission in a few years. In my research, I do not use telescopes or imagers to take pictures of objects in the solar system. Instead, I use special instruments to measure electric and magnetic fields in Earth's magnetosphere, as well as the energies of electrons and the direction the electrons are moving relative to the magnetic field. The usual way of measuring electric fields on a satellite in outer space is to use a really, really long wire antenna on a spinning satellite. These antennas can be 50 meters long, and fly out from the spinning satellite, so we can only measure the electric field in the spin plane of the satellite. The Electron Drift Instrument (EDI) is a relatively new way of measuring electric fields that does not need a long wire antenna. EDI actually uses what we know about how electrons behave in magnetic and electric fields in order to determine the electric field. EDI has an electron gun that sends out a beam of electrons and an electron detector that looks for the beam sent out by the gun. The time it takes the electron beam to return to EDI and the direction at which the beam is found by the detector can tell us the electric field. This method can measure electric fields perpendicular to the satellite spin plane, but the instrument is a lot more complicated than a wire antenna, which is why I am simulating EDI on a computer.


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