Power supply of an ionspectrometer with Gerdien condenser

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Dr. Szabó József
Department of Broadband Infocommunications and Electromagnetic Theory

On our University in 2012, three student groups develop equipment in the REXUS/BEXUS program of the European Space Agency (ESA). One of them, the GEKKO team, is designing an ionspectrometer for the REXUS platform, which is an ionosphere researching vertical rocket. The main goal of the experiment is to analyze the ion composition of the atmosphere at different altitudes. The equipment will occupy one module of the REXUS 13 / 14 vertical rockets. The measurements will be conducted using Gerdien condensers; these will be mounted on the exterior of the module. Connected to the sensitive analog electronics performing the measurements, a digital On-Board Data Handling subsystem will also be integrated inside the module. This will control the measurement, store the results, and send them to the telemetry module. Beyond the scientific goals, the main goal of the program is to widen the knowledge of university students in the field of space research. In the GEKKO student team my task, which is also the topic of my thesis, is to develop a low noise, multiple output power supply for the experiment.

The thesis summarizes the architecture of the module, the aspects of using the rocket platform, the main goals of the measurement, and the waited results. It reviews the main specifications of the power supply unit. Among them, the most important will be the low noise level of the output; this is required because the power supply needs to supply highly sensitive analog measuring instruments with energy. High efficiency is also an important requirement, because the amount of available electrical energy on board is restricted. Beyond these, the final power supply needs to tolerate the extreme temperatures occurring during the mission, and all mechanical stress caused by the launch.

In the work the main steps of the circuit design and part choice will be introduced. The thesis work also includes building a model circuit on a test board, development of an environment for testing, and completion and documentation of the qualification measurement series. I close my work with summarizing the development experiences and looking at the further possibilities.


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