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Mass Spectrometer

NSSDCA ID: 1963-009A-01

Mission Name: AE-A
Principal Investigator:Dr. Carl A. Reber


Two identical double-focusing magnetic mass spectrometers were used to measure the concentrations of the major neutral particle constituents of the upper atmosphere, namely, atomic and molecular oxygen, atomic and molecular nitrogen, helium, and water vapor. These neutral particles were ionized by electron bombardment. Measurements of the six different ion currents and the total current were made sequentially for 4 s in high sensitivity and 4 s in low sensitivity. A period of 64 s was required for the entire measurement cycle. Included in the cycle was an operation to correct any dc drift of the zero voltage level in the output signal. One spectrometer produced useless data due to a malfunction. The other detector system experienced intermittent degeneration of the amplifier output, and, consequently, the data were good only during certain periods. This degeneration was not a result of instrument malfunction but of an unexpected spacecraft attitude which oriented the sensor toward the sun and caused it to overheat. A more complete description of the experiment, the instrumentation, and the calibration procedures can be found in C. A. Reber et al., Planet. Space Sci., v. 13, n. 7, p. 617, 1965. NSSDC has all the useful data that exist from this investigation.

Alternate Names

  • AE-A/MassSpectrometer

Facts in Brief

Mass: 13.6 kg
Power (avg): 52 W

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science United States


  • Earth Science: Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Space Physics: Thermospheric Studies

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. Dieter K. Bilitza



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. B. ZuckerGeneral ContactComputer Sciences Corporation
Dr. Carl A. ReberPrincipal InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight
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