Shuttle Exhaust Ion Turbulence Experiments (SEITE) - 07.19.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

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 Bernhardt, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Paul Bernhardt, Ph.D., Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, United States

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 - March 2010; September 2010 - September 2011

Expeditions Assigned

Previous 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 and Protocols
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.
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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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Results Publications

    Bernhardt PA, Ballenthin JO, Baumgardner JL, Bhatt A, Boyd ID, Burt JM, Caton RG, Coster AJ, Erickson PJ, Huba JD, Earle GD, Kaplan CR, Foster JC, Groves KM, Haaser RA, Heelis RA, Hunton DE, Hysell DL, Klenzing JH, Larsen MF, Lind FD, Pedersen TR, Pfaff RF, Stoneback RA, Roddy PA, Rodriquez SP, San Antonio GS, Schuck PW, Siefring CL, Selcher CA, Smith SM, Talaat ER, Thomason JF, Tsunoda RT, Varney RH.  Ground and Space-Based Measurement of Rocket Engine Burns in the Ionosphere. IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. 2012 May; 40(5): 1267-1286. DOI: 10.1109/TPS.2012.2185814.

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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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