Shuttle Exhaust Ion Turbulence Experiments (SEITE) - 09.17.14

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Science Objectives for Everyone
Shuttle Exhaust Ion Turbulence Experiments (SEITE) uses space-based sensors to detect the ionospheric turbulence inferred from the radar observations from a previous Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) burn experiment using ground-based radar.

Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Paul A. Bernhardt, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)

  • Paul A. Bernhardt, Ph.D., Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, United States

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
    Information Pending
    United States Department of Defense Space Test Program, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    National Laboratory - Department of Defense (NL-DoD)

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    October 2008 - September 2011

    Expeditions Assigned

    Previous ISS Missions
    SEITE will be operated on Space Shuttle missions 17A and 2JA during Expedition 19/20.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • Shuttle Exhaust Ion Turbulence Experiments (SEITE) research will enhance the surveillance of space, real-time characterization, detection and tracking and timely surveillance of high interest objects.

    • The purpose for SEITE is for space-based diagnostics of ionospheric turbulence utilizing Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) exhaust.

    Shuttle Exhaust Ion Turbulence Experiments (SEITE) uses instrumentation on several satellites for in situ observations of density and electric field disturbances caused by the Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) engine exhaust plume. SEITE satellite instrumentation will observe and measure the plasma turbulence (disruption in ionized gas particles) produced by the OMS exhaust plume (column of gas resulting from the use of propellants and measure electric fields, plasma waves (periodic motion in ionized gas particles), plasma densities (density of electrons), and magnetic fields (an area surrounding a magnetic body or electrical current).

    The Communications/Navigation Outage Forecasting System (C/NOFS) satellite, FalconSat-3, and the Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe/CASCADE Demonstrator Small-sat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer (ePOP/CASSIOPE) satellites have the correct instrumentation for the measurements. The satellite sensors for the measurements provide data on the following: Neutral Flows, Electron and Ion Distributions, Electric Fields and Plasma Waves, Radio Scintillations. The satellite needs to be within 300 km of the ignition point for the measurements. On average there is an opportunity for an observation once every 5 days for each satellite while the Shuttle is in orbit.

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    Space Applications
    Artificially created plasma turbulence can disrupt military navigation and communications using radio systems.

    Earth Applications
    Results will help in the interpretation of spacecraft plumes when they are observed from Earth.

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    Operational Requirements
    A 10-second dual OMS engine burn at a point where the far field exhaust plume will intersect with the flight path of one of the satellites particpating with SEITE. NASA provides orbit updates for coordination with the SEITE diagnostic satellite. Knowledge of Shuttle and SEITE satellite orbits prior to a conjunction with 10 km accuracy and 1 second resolution. After the Space Shuttle burn is performed need actual ignition point with 1 km accuracy and engine attitude to 5 degrees accuracy. The satellites will only passively observe the plume and will not perform a maneuver.

    Operational Protocols
    OMS engine burns will be performed at a precise time, location and direction so the engine plume and on-orbit satellites will achieve conjunction.

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    Results/More Information
    Information Pending

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    Results Publications

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

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    Related Websites

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    image SEITE experiment operational concept. Image courtesy of US Department of Defense Space Test Program, Houston, TX.
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    image Symmetrical Dual OMS Burn in Daylight on a Space Shuttle.
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