CubeSat Ion Velocity Meter

CubeSats are a new generation of low cost satellites built out of standard sized cubes measuring 10 x 10 x 10 cm. The Ion Velocity Meter (IVM) is a satellite-based instrument that measures properties of the local plasma environment, including plasma density, temperature, constituent ions, and three-dimensional velocity vector. Originally designed for full sized satellites, CubeSats lack the available mass, power, and volume for a typical IVM. The CubeSat IVM pictured below merges multiple instruments together to produce a full suite of measurements with only a single entrance aperture (opening to plasma). The background instrument comes from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) IVM. While the CubeSat IVM is self-contained, the heritage DMSP instrument requires both the gold plated piece, as well as multiple electronics support boxes.

The CubeSat IVM was first launched on the SORTIE CubeSat aboard CRS-19 on December 5, 2019 and then deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) on February 10, 2020

Foreground – CubeSat IVM; Background – DMSP IVM
One of DMSP IVM’s electronic boxes, itself larger than the whole CubeSat IVM. Zac Morgan, engineer, inspects the CubeSat IVM.
Scintillation Observations and Response of The Ionosphere to Electrodynamics (SORTIE) CubeSat including the IVM
SORTIE launch from the International Space Station