DFG-MFA - Design, Manufacturing and Qualification of the Magnetometer Front-end ASIC for the Digital FluxGate Magnetometer Onboard of the NASA Mission MMS

Short Description

Scientific instruments for space applications are required to reduce resource requirements, such as volume, mass and power, while at the same time achievement of at least the same performance as conventional instruments is essential. So it is important that especially the instrument front-ends and read-out units undergo miniaturization.

That is why a prototype of an instrument front-end ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) for magnetic field sensors based on the fluxgate principle has been developed under the lead of the Space Research Institute (IWF) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences financially supported by the European Space Agency (ESA).

It is called Magnetometer Front-end ASIC (MFA). With this mixed-signal (analog and digital) MFA in a 100- pin wide space qualified package, it is possible to reduce the required power for the read-out electronics by a factor of 10 and more as well as the area needed on a printed circuit board by a factor of 3-4 compared to magnetic field instruments, e.g., aboard Venus Express (ESA) and Themis (NASA).

Due to the successful prototyping, IWF was invited to participate in the development of the dual fluxgate magnetometer for NASA’s Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) mission by supplying MFA based electronics for the Digital FluxGate (DFG) magnetometer.

The NASA mission Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) will explore the dynamics of the Earth's magnetosphere and its underlying energy transfer processes. Four identically equipped spacecraft are to carry out three-dimensional measurements in the Earth's magnetosphere. The launch of the four spacecraft is scheduled for August 2014.

The manufacturing and space qualification of the MFA as well as the development of an Interface Verification Model and an Engineering Model of the DFG electronics were financially supported by an ASAP 5 project from January 2008 to December 2009. The last milestone, completion of the MFA qualification, was achieved in early March 2010.

Project Partners


Austrian Academy of Sciences, Space Research Institute (IWF) - Prof. Wolfgang Baumjohann, Dr. Werner Magnes


  • University of New Hampshire, USA, Space Science Center - Prof. Roy Torbert
  • University of California at Los Angeles, USA, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) - Prof. Chris Russell

Contact Address

Austrian Academy of Sciences, Space Research Institute (IWF)
Prof. Wolfgang Baumjohann
Dr. Werner Magnes
Schmiedlstraße 6
A-8042 Graz
E-mail: werner.magnes@oeaw.ac.at
Web: www.iwf.oeaw.ac.at