MMS-DFG 2 - Flight Model Development of the Digital Fluxgate Magnetometer for NASA's MMS Mission

The ASAP 7 MMS-DFG 2 project covered the assembly, calibration and integration of a total of four Flight Models and one Spare Model. Calibration showed that the flight models fully met all performance requirements. The intrinsic noise of the magnetometer at 1 Hz is 5 pT/sqrt(Hz) and thus a factor of two lower than required for the MMS mission.

Short Description

NASA’s Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) mission 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 October 2014.

The Space Research Institute (IWF) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences was invited to participate in the development of the dual fluxgate magnetometer for NASA’s MMS mission by supplying an especially miniaturized front-end electronics for the Digital FluxGate (DFG) magnetometer. DFG is part of a larger instrument suite called FIELDS, which is led by the University of New Hampshire. The sensor for DFG is supplied by the University of California, Los Angeles.

The core component of the electronics is an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) which has been developed by IWF jointly with the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits. It is called Magnetometer Front-end ASIC (MFA) and was manufactured by austriamicrosystems (ams). The mixed-signal (analogue and digital) MFA, which is assembled in a 100-pin wide space qualified package, reduces the required power for the readout electronics by a factor of 10 and more as well as the area needed on a printed circuit board by a factor of 3 to 4 compared to magnetic field instruments, e.g. on board Venus Express (ESA) and THEMIS (NASA).

This project directly followed the ASAP 5 DFG-MFA project, which included 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.

Project Partners


Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), Space Research Institute (IWF) - Werner Magnes

Contact Address

Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) - Space Research Institute (IWF)
Werner Magnes
Schmiedlstraße 6
A-8042 Graz
Tel.: +43 (316) 4120 - 562