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Ion Traps

NSSDCA ID: 1960-014A-02

Mission Name: Explorer 8
Principal Investigator:Mr. Robert E. Bourdeau


A series of four flush-mounted and electrically insulated planar ion traps with plane parallel grids and collectors was used to measure the total current of incident protons, electrons, other charged particles, and photoelectrons emitted from the collectors. The addition of a single grounded grid and a positively biased collector permitted the measurement of electron current as a function of satellite attitude. The experiment also allowed the grid to be swept from -1.2 to +8 V in order to measure the spacecraft equilibrium potential and the external electron temperature. The addition of a second grid between the grounded outer grid and the collector enabled two three-element probes to measure positive ion and electron currents. One probe, with the inner grid at -15 V, collected incoming positive ions while repelling external electrons and suppressing internal photoelectrons. The second probe, with an inner grid bias at +25 V, measured the incident electron flux and the then unsuppressed photoemission current. Results from this experiment were limited because the decommutation scheme for the satellite was so poor that machine processing was impossible. Some manual recognition of meaningful signal sequences was systematized, and a limited amount of this information formed the total observational data obtained from the experiment.

Alternate Names

  • Explorer8/IonTraps


  • Space Physics: Ionospheric Studies

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. John L. DonleyOther InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Mr. Gideon P. SerbuOther InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Dr. Elden C. WhippleOther InvestigatorNOAA Environmental Research
Mr. Robert E. BourdeauPrincipal InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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