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Atmospheric Explorer A (AE-A, or Explorer 17) was a spin-stabilized sphere 0.95 m in diameter. The spacecraft was vacuum sealed in order to prevent contamination of the local atmosphere. Explorer 17 carried four pressure gauges for the measurement of total neutral particle density, two mass spectrometers for the measurement of certain neutral particle concentrations, and two electrostatic probes for ion concentration and electron temperature measurements. Battery power failed on July 10, 1963. Three of the four pressure gauges and both electrostatic probes operated normally. One spectrometer malfunctioned, and the other operated intermittently.

Alternate Names

  • 00564
  • Atmosphere Explorer-A
  • Explorer 17
  • S 6

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1963-04-03
Launch Vehicle: Thor-Delta
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 183.7 kg

Funding Agency

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


  • Space Physics
  • Earth Science

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Herman E. LagowGeneral ContactNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Mr. Jimmy E. CooleyGeneral ContactNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Dr. Nelson W. SpencerProject ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Dr. Robert F. FellowsProgram ScientistNASA Headquarters

Other AE Data/Information at NSSDCA


Explorer 17 replica

Replica of Explorer 17 (AE-A) at the Smithsonian Air and Space Udvar-Hazy Center.

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