Dellingr/RBLE (Dellingr/RBLE) - 08.16.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
A stream of charged particles and magnetic field, called the solar wind, flows constantly outward from the dynamic sun, impacting Earth’s magnetic field and leading to space weather effects, including roiling the outer layers of Earth’s atmosphere. Dellingr/RBLE measures the magnetic fluctuations and molecular changes in this layer of Earth’s upper atmosphere in order to determine baseline conditions and observe space weather impacts.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Larry Kepko, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Larry Kepko, Ph.D., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

Michael Johnson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
NanoRacks, LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2017 - September 2017

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Earth’s upper atmosphere changes in response to a phenomenon known as “space weather”. Space weather is created by the sun’s activity (solar flares, Coronal Mass Ejections, the solar wind, etc.), and much of the impacts are observed on Earth at high latitudes. It is in this region: such as across Canada, Iceland, and Scandinavia, where space weather has the biggest visible impact in the form of the Aurora Borealis. Space weather can also disrupt radio communication, damage sensitive electronics in orbiting satellites, and cause damage to power transmission infrastructure. Space weather also can cause changes in Earth’s upper atmosphere. These changes can be measured by orbiting satellites to provide a better understanding of space weather and its effects on the Earth. To make these observations, the Dellingr/RBLE CubeSat carries two instruments:
    • A magnetometer carried at the end of a 55-cm boom measures changes in the magnetic field to provide data on space weather effects to the atmosphere. The spacecraft also carries two magnetometers internal to the spacecraft. Advanced signal processing software is used to ‘clean’ the measurements, and compare to the magnetometer measurements obtained on the boom, which is away from the noise/interference caused by the spacecraft electronics.
    • A ‘spectrometer’ to measure both ion and neutral particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere. These particles respond to space weather effects by increasing temperature, increasing velocity, or altering the chemistry. By measuring these changes, more can be learned about how space weather changes Earth’s upper atmosphere.
  • In addition to science objectives, the Dellingr/RBLE CubeSat has additional goals. As CubeSats transition from educational or demonstration platforms into satellites that can be used to answer compelling science questions, it is necessary to increase the operational reliability of CubeSats. A key goal is the application of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center decades of experience in building reliable space-based scientific platforms to build a reliable 6 Unit (6U) CubeSat, without ballooning the cost or imposing piles of requirements.


The Dellingr/RBLE CubeSat fulfills a requirement for providing the capability of making in situ measurements of atmospheric neutral and ion composition and density, not only for studies of the dynamic ionosphere-theremosphere-mesosphere system but simply to define the steady state background atmospheric conditions. The INMS (Ion-Neutral Mass Spectrometer) on the CubeSat addresses this need by providing simultaneous measurements of both the neutral and ion environment, essentially providing two instruments in one compact model. It can measure Hydrogen, Helium, Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen, among others, with M/dM of approximately 10 at an incoming energy range of 0-50eV. The INMS is based on front end optics, post acceleration, gated time of flight Electrostatic Analyzer (ESA) and Channel Electron Multiplier (CEM) or Micro Channel Plate (MCP) detectors.
The compact sensor has a dual symmetric configuration, with the ion and neutral sensor heads on opposite sides and with full electronics in the middle. The neutral front end optics includes thermionic emission ionization and ion blocking grids, and the ion front end optics includes spacecraft potential compensation grids. The electronics include a front-end system, fast gating, High Voltage Power Supply (HVPS), ionizer, Time of Flight (TOF) binning, and full bi-directional Command and Data Handling (C&DH) digital electronics. The data package includes 400 mass bins each for ions and neutrals, and key housekeeping data for instrument health and calibration. The data sampling can be commanded as fast as 10 milliseconds per frame (corresponding to ~80 meters distance in the ionosphere along the orbit) in burst mode, and has significant onboard storage capability and data compression scheme.
The 1.3U volume, 570 gram, 1.8W nominal power INMS instrument makes implementation into CubeSat designs (3U and above) practical and feasible. With high dynamic range (0.1-500eV), mass dynamic range of 1-40 atomic mass units (amu), sharp time resolution (0.1s), and mass resolution of MdM16, the INMS instrument addresses the atmospheric science needs that otherwise would have required larger more expensive instrumentation. INMS-v1 (version 1) was launched on Exocube (CalPoly 3U cubesat) in 2015, and INMS-v2 (version 2) is scheduled to launch on Dellingr/RBLE (GSFC 6U cubesat) in 2017.
Dellingr/RBLE also carries 3 fluxgate magnetometers. The two internal magnetometers are designed to test new software ‘scrubbing’ algorithms that remove interference created by the electronics of the spacecraft. The traditional approach for magnetic field measurements is to place the magnetometer at the end of a long boom, away from magnetic contamination from the spacecraft. But through software, it is possible to remove spacecraft interference from magnetometers embedded within the spacecraft, thereby reducing cost and complexity by removing the magnetometer boom. By flying both a boom-mounted magnetometer and two internal magnetometers, it will be possible to test the capability of the software scrubbing algorithms against ‘pristine’ magnetic field data collected by the boom magnetometer.

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Space Applications
Understanding, monitoring, and predicting risk associated with space weather can help protect communications, equipment and crew safety during long term space travel. Dellingr/RBLE expands understanding of space weather risk by establishing baseline estimates of magnetic variation and particle fluxes in the exosphere. The instrument also observes cause and effect relationships between solar events and Earth’s atmosphere, which advances fundamental understanding of electromagnetic dynamics in the space environment.

Earth Applications
Space weather affects communications and other electromagnetic phenomena on Earth. Dellingr/RBLE provides a refined understanding of how space weather can propagate through Earth’s atmosphere. The understanding can help protect communications resources and reduce risk associated with electromagnetic exposure. This project also demonstrates CubeSat capability in performing large-scale remote sensing tasks.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
NanoRacks CubeSats are delivered to the ISS already integrated within a NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) or NanoRacks DoubleWide Deployer (NRDD). A crew member transfers each NRCSD/NRDD from the launch vehicle to the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). Visual inspection for damage to each NRCSD is performed. When CubeSat deployment operations begin, the NRCSD/NRDDs are unpacked, mounted on the JAXA Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) and placed on the JEM airlock slide table for transfer outside the ISS. A crew member operates the JEM Remote Manipulating System (JRMS) – to grapple and position for deployment. CubeSats are deployed when JAXA ground controllers command a specific NRCSD. Data is downlinked to the NASA Wallops Flight Facility ground station via a UHF radio.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
NASA Team Set to Deliver Newfangled 6U CubeSat

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