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Explorer: SSS A

Explorer 45 (SSS A) [NASA]

Explorer 45, SSS A (Small Scientific Satellite, S-Cubed) was designed to perform a wide variety of investigations within the magnetosphere with regards to particle fluxes, electric fields, and magnetic fields. Its primary scientific objectives were

  • to study the characteristics and origin of the earth's ring current and development of the main-phase magnetic storms, and
  • to study the relation between magnetic storms, substorms, and the acceleration of charged particles within the inner magnetosphere.

To determine the major wave-particle interaction mechanisms, directional measurements of protons, electrons, and alpha particles were made over a wide energy range, and dc and ac electric and magnetic fields were measured. Explorer 45 had the capability for complete inflight control of the data format through the use of an onboard set of stored program instructions. These instructions governed the collection of data and were reprogrammable via ground command. The antenna system consisted of four dipole antennas spaced 90 deg apart on the surface of the spacecraft cover. The satellite contained two transmitters, one for digital (PCM) data at 446 bps, and the other for either the digital data or wideband analog data from 30 Hz to 10 kHz from the ac electric field probes and from one search coil sensor. The satellite power system consisted of a rechargeable battery and an array of solar cells. The spin rate was about 7 rpm, and the spin axis lay in the spacecraft orbital plane which was approximately the same as the earth's equatorial plane. The initial local time of apogee was about 21.8 h and the line of apsides moved around toward the sun at an initial rate of 12 deg per month. The satellite was operationally turned off on 30 September 1974, after approximately 3 years of successful and productive operation.

The onboard instruments were:

  • Channel Electron Multipliers with Electrostatic Analyzers
  • Solid-State Proton-Alpha Particle Telescope
  • Solid-State Detectors
  • Fluxgate Magnetometers
  • Search Coil Magnetometer
  • DC Electric Field Measurement
  • AC Electric Field Measurement

Three more satellites of the SSS series were planned, but these were cancelled later.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Research, Magntosphere
Operator: NASA
Propulsion: ?
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 52 kg
Orbit: 272 km × 18149 km, 3.2
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Explorer 45 (SSS A, S-Cubed A) 1971-096A 15.11.1971 SM Scout-B
SSS B (S-Cubed B) - cancelled
SSS C (S-Cubed C) - cancelled
SSS D (S-Cubed D) - cancelled


Further Explorer missions: