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Magnetometer and Electron Reflectometer (MAG/ER)

NSSDC ID: 1992-063A-03
Mission Name: Mars Observer
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mario H. Acuna


The magnetometer/electron reflectometer (MAG/ER) experiment was designed to: (1) establish the nature of the magnetic field of Mars; (2) develop appropriate models for its representation; and, (3) map the Martian crustal remanent field to a resolution consistent with the Mars Observer orbital altitude and ground track separation. The experiment consisted of two separate subsystems: the magnetometer (MAG) and the electron reflectometer (ER).

The magnetometer subsystem consisted of two triaxial fluxgate magnetometers, one placed at the end of a 6 m boom, the other placed about 2/3 of the way between the outer sensor and the main body of the spacecraft. The dual magnetometer technique, similar to instruments developed for other missions (e.g., Voyager and Magsat), allowed the real-time estimation of the spacecraft-generated magnetic field and provided redundancy for the in situ magnetic field measurements. The MAG subsystem was capable of operating over a large dynamic range of field intensities, from +/- 4 nT to +/- 65,536 nT, in eight selected ranges and three orthogonal directions.

The electron reflectometer consisted of a 360 degree x 12 degree field-of-view (FOV) hemispherical electrostatic analyzer, 12.0 cm in diameter. The ER was mounted ~3 m out on the boom. Particles entering the analyzer were focused onto an imaging detector, providing fine-angular resolution (1.4 x 14 degrees) in the plane of the FOV. Since the analyzer covered a complete 360 degrees in a plane, this allowed particle pitch angles in the range of 90+/-D degrees to be sampled, where D is the angle of the magnetic field to the plane of the analyzer's FOV. During the mission, the FOV would have been oriented to include the nadir and be perpendicular to the direction of the orbital velocity of the spacecraft. This would permit the measurement of electrons with pitch angles in a range no less than 65--115 degrees. The analyzer was stepped through 32 energy ranges every second. Particle energies between 0--20 keV were measured.

Because of the volume of data this measurement technique created, a primary task of the data processing unit for the MAG/ER was to reduce the ER data to meaningful parameters (e.g., loss cone angles, energy spectra, plasma parameters, and averaged distributions), perform averages and fits to the data, and format the information for transmission. Calibrations (to remove the effects of any spacecraft-generated field and establish instrument offsets) were to be performed by periodically performing a spacecraft roll maneuver about the nadir-pointed axis a few times during the mapping mission.

Contact with Mars Observer was lost for unknown reasons on August 21, 1993, three days before scheduled orbit insertion, so only magnetometer cruise mode data were returned for this investigation. This experiment has been re-scheduled to fly on the Mars Global Surveyor.

Alternate Names

  • MAG/ER

Facts in Brief

Mass: 5.4 kg
Power (avg): 4.6 W
Bit rate (avg): 0.648 bps

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Planetary Science: Fields and Particles

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Prof. Kinsey A. AndersonCo-InvestigatorUniversity of California,
Dr. Michael A. MayhewCo-InvestigatorNational Science
Dr. Peter J. WasilewskiCo-InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight
Dr. Paul A. CloutierCo-InvestigatorRice
Dr. Diedrich T. MohlmannCo-InvestigatorDeutsche Forschungsenstalt fuer Luft-und
Mr. David W. CurtisCo-InvestigatorUniversity of California,
Dr. Michel MenvielleCo-InvestigatorUniversite Paris 
Prof. Robert P. LinCo-InvestigatorUniversity of California, Berkeley 
Dr. John E. P. ConnerneyCo-InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight
Dr. Norman F. NessCo-InvestigatorUniversity of
Dr. James A. SlavinCo-InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight
Dr. Siegfried J. BauerCo-InvestigatorUniversitat Graz, Austria 
Prof. Henri RemeCo-InvestigatorCentre National de la Recherche
Dr. Charles W. CarlsonCo-InvestigatorUniversity of California,
Dr. Mario H. AcunaPrincipal InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight Center 
Dr. Alexander A.

Selected References

Komro, F. G., and F. N. Hujber, Mars Observer instrument complement, J. Spacecr. Rockets, 28, No. 5, 501-506, Sep.-Oct. 1991.

Acuna, M. H., et al., Mars Observer magnetic fields investigation, J. Geophys. Res., 97, No. E5, 7799-7814, May 1992.

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