University of Colorado at Boulder University of Colorado CU Home Search A to Z Index Map
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics


Photo of SAMPEX in its final configuration.

Detailed description of the SAMPEX spacecraft has been published in IEEE transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, May 1993, Vol 31, No. 3, 531-541.

View publication

The scientific objectives of the NASA Small-class Explorer Mission SAMPEX are summarized. A brief history of the Small Explorer program is provided along with a description of the SAMPEX project development and structure. The spacecraft and scientific instrument configuration is presented. The orbit of SAMPEX has an altitude of 520 by 670 km and an 82 degree inclination. Maximum possible power is provided by articulated solar arrays that point continuously toward the sun. Highly sensitive science instruments point generally toward the local zenith, especially over the terrestrial poles, in order to measure optimally the galactic and solar cosmic ray flux. Energetic magnetospheric particle precipitation is monitored at lower geomagnetic latitudes. The spacecraft uses several innovative approaches including an optical fiber bus, powerful onboard computers, and large solid state memories (instead of tape recorders). Spacecraft communication and data acquisition are discussed and the space- and ground-segment data flows are summarized. A mission lifetime of 3 years is sought with the goal of extending data acquisition over an even longer portion of the 11-year solar activity cycle.