System Design and Instrument Development for the Osiris-3u Cubesat Mission

Open Access
Kummer, Allen Theodore
Graduate Program:
Electrical Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 29, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Sven G Bilen, Thesis Advisor
  • CubeSat
  • SSPL
  • space weather
  • ionosphere heater
  • Arecibo
  • Langmuir probe
  • Plasma Frequency Probe
Cube satellites (CubeSats) have increased in popularity in recent years as a tool for space research and education. Students and faculty at Penn State's Student Space Programs Laboratory (SSPL) have been developing the Orbital Satellite to Investigate the Response of the Ionosphere to Stimulation and Space weather (OSIRIS-3U) CubeSat. By measuring the spatial and temporal response of the ionosphere using in situ and remote sensing instruments, OSIRIS-3U will help answer questions on plasma transport in the stimulated ionosphere. This work focuses on the mission development and incremental development of a science instrument for OSIRIS-3U. Mission development is a balance between system capabilities and desired measurements to meet the mission objectives. Building a system model is key to understanding system sensitivity to tradeoffs of operational time to power usage, and numbers of orbits through a science region to generated data volume. A Monte Carlo simulation of the OSIRIS-3U mission in AGI's Satellite Tool Kit (STK) provides the data points to observe and analyze system sensitivities using the Applied Research Laboratory's Trade Space Visualizer (ATSV) tool. This understanding is required to develop a clear set of requirements to guide future system development and implementation. The OSIRIS-3U system carries three primary instruments to address the science question including a Langmuir probe (LP) developed at Penn State, a UHF beacon developed by the Naval Research Laboratory, and an occultation instrument developed by The Aerospace Corporation. Previous work has been done at Penn State to develop another instrument that combines the LP with a plasma impedance probe (PIP), providing increased mission flexibility in small volumes such as on CubeSats. The present work incrementally builds on previous work at Penn State by building, calibrating, and testing the PIP and comparing the results with a network analyzer and laying a path for future development.