Magnetic Field of the Psyche Spacecraft

January 24, 2023
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The Psyche spacecraft includes many unavoidable magnetic field sources, which must be accounted for to measure the magnetic field signature of the Psyche metal-rich asteroid.

The visual illustrates the complex nature of the spacecraft’s magnetic field, modeled as the sum of over 200 individual sources arising from various spacecraft subsystems and instruments.

Magnetic sources include hard magnets as well as current loops that generate variable magnetic fields in the two solar array wings which extend outward from the spacecraft. Magnetic field lines that originate from these sources are spatially color-coded by their strength, where red colors indicate higher field strengths and blue colors indicate lower strengths.

Curved lnes around a computer-generated model of a spacecraft show how it interacts with magnetic fields. Red, the most intense lines, are mostly around the spacecraft.
Magnetic field lines in red indicate higher field strengths. Blue indicates lower strengths.

The sensors of the Psyche magnetometer are mounted on a boom extending from the top of the spacecraft to distant the measurements from the contaminate fields of the Psyche spacecraft.

NASA’s Psyche team will measure the asteroid’s magnetic field using a magnetometer. This instrument is composed of two identical high-sensitivity magnetic field sensors located at the middle and outer end of a 6-foot (2-meter) boom on the spacecraft.