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Search-Coil Magnetometer

NSSDCA ID: 1959-004A-04

Mission Name: Explorer 6
Principal Investigator:Dr. Charles P. Sonett


This experiment was designed to survey the gross magnetic field of the earth, to investigate the interplanetary magnetic field, and to detect evidence of any lunar magnetic field. No interplanetary or lunar magnetic fields could be measured, however, because of the spacecraft's low apogee. The instrument was similar to that flown on Pioneer 1 and consisted of a single search coil mounted so that it measured the magnetic field perpendicular to the spacecraft spin axis. The instrument had a range of 0.6 nT to 1200 nT. No inflight calibration was provided. Some degradation of the telemetry signal occurred due to ionospheric effects. Insufficient ground observations on the electron content of the ionosphere prevented correcting the data for these effects. The experiment had both digital and analog outputs. The magnetometer amplitude and phase were sampled continuously for analog transmission and intermittently (every 2 min, 15 s, or 1.9 s, depending on satellite bit rate) for digital transmission. The magnetometer worked until loss of the telemetry signal in early October, 1959. For further details, see Judge and Coleman, J. Geophys. Res., v. 67, p. 5071, 1962. NSSDC has all the useful data that now exist.

Alternate Names

  • Explorer6/Search-CoilMagnetometer


  • Space Physics: Magnetospheric Studies

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Edward J. SmithOther InvestigatorNASA Jet Propulsion
Dr. Darrell L. JudgeOther InvestigatorUniversity of Southern
Prof. Paul J. Coleman, Jr.Other InvestigatorUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Charles P. SonettPrincipal InvestigatorUniversity of Arizona
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