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Triaxial Fluxgate Magnetometer

NSSDC ID: 1973-085A-04
Mission Name: Mariner 10
Principal Investigator: Dr. Norman F. Ness


This experiment consisted of two triaxial fluxgate magnetometers mounted on a common boom, 2.3 m and 5.8 m from the spacecraft, and designed to measure the vector magnetic field in the vicinity of Mercury and Venus and in the interplanetary medium. Outputs from the two magnetometers were simultaneously analyzed to separate ambient fields from spacecraft fields. Each sensor had dual operating ranges of +/-16 nT and +/-128 nT, with digitization accuracies of 0.03 nT and 0.26 nT, respectively. Bias offset capability extended the operating range to +/-3188 nT. During the primary phase of the mission (November 3, 1973, to March 29, 1974) and during the second and third Mercury encounters, 25 vectors per second were sampled by the primary outboard magnetometer and transmitted to Earth. At other times, a lower data rate mode was used during which five vectors per second were transmitted. The experiment functioned normally throughout the life of the spacecraft.

Facts in Brief

Mass: 4.3 kg
Power (avg): 13.6 W
Bit rate (avg): 1.052 bps

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science (United States)


  • Planetary Science: Fields and Particles
  • Space Physics: Heliospheric Studies

Additional Information

Questions or comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. Edwin V. Bell, II.



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Norman F. NessGeneral ContactNASA Goddard Space Flight
Prof. Yun Chow WhangCo-InvestigatorCatholic University of
Dr. Kenneth W. BehannonCo-InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight Center 
Dr. Ronald P. LeppingCo-InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight
Dr. Kenneth H. SchattenCo-InvestigatorVictoria University of

Selected References

Ness, N. F., et al., Magnetic field observations near Mercury: Preliminary results from Mariner 10, Science, 185, No. 4146, 151-160, July 1974.

Ness, N. F., et al., Magnetic field of Mercury: Part one, J. Geophys. Res., 80, No. 19, 2708-2716, July 1975.

Fairfield, D. H., and K. W. Behannon, Bow shock and magnetosheath waves at Mercury, J. Geophys. Res., 81, No. 22, 3897-3906, Aug. 1976.

Ness, N. F., et al., Observations of Mercury's magnetic field, Icarus, 28, No. 4, 479-488, 1976.

Whang, Y. C., Magnetospheric magnetic field of Mercury, J. Geophys. Res., 82, No. 7, 1024-1030, March 1977.

Jackson, D. J., and D. B. Beard, Magnetic field of Mercury, J. Geophys. Res., 82, No. 19, 2828-2836, July 1977.

Ness, N. F., et al., Magnetic field observations near Venus: Preliminary results from Mariner 10, Science, 183, No. 4131, 1301-1306, Mar. 1974.

Lepping, R. P., and K. W. Behannon, Magnetic field directional discontinuities: Characteristics between 0.46 and 1.0 au, J. Geophys. Res., 91, No. A8, 8725-8741, Aug. 1986.

Image of the Triaxial Fluxgate Magnetometer experiment

Triaxial Fluxgate Magnetometer

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