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AMPTE (Active Magnetospheric Particle Tracer Explorer) was a joint US - German - UK endeavor with the US providing the Charge Composition Explorer (CCE), an equatorial mission with apogee close to 8 Re, with Germany providing the Ion Release Module (IRM) with an apogee close to 20 Re and the UK providing the UK Subsatellite (UKS) in the same orbit as the IRM. It was designed to study the access of solar-wind ions to the magnetosphere, the convective-diffusive transport and energization of magnetospheric particles, and the interactions of plasmas in space.

The IRM (Ion Release Module) provided multiple ion releases in the solar wind, the magnetosheath, and the magnetotail, with in situ diagnostics of each. The IRM spacecraft was spin-stabilized at 15 rpm. Its spin axis was initially in the ecliptic plane, but later it was adjusted with magnetic torqueing to be at right angles to the ecliptic. The power system was a 60 W solar array with redundant batteries. There was a redundant S-band telemetry and telecommand system. Telemetry rates could be chosen between 1 and 8 kbps. For injection into the final orbit, the IRM carried its own kick stage. In addition to the ion releases, the instruments on board the s/c monitored the ambient, magnetosphere, but with the data acquisition confined to the passes that could be tracked in real time from Germany. The spacecraft became inoperational as of 14 August 1986.

Following experiments were mounted on the IRM:

  • Ion Release Experiment
  • Triaxial Fluxgate Magnetometer: 0.1 - 60,000 nT, 3-50 Hz
  • 30-channel, 3-D Plasma Analyzer. e: 15 eV -30 keV. ions: 20 eV/q-40 keV.q
  • Mass Separation Ion Spectrometer, MSIS. H through Ba: 0.5 eV/q-14 keV.q
  • 64 channel, E- and B-field Plasma Wave Spectrometer. E:0.0-5.6 MHz;B:30 Hz-1.5 MHz
  • Suprathermal Energy Ionic Charge Analyzer. H through Fe:5-270 keV.q; e:35-207 keV.
Nation: Germany
Type / Application: Research, Magnetosphere
Operator: Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik
Propulsion: BE-3-A9 AKM
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Lifetime: 2 years
Mass: 705 kg
Orbit: 896 km × 113396 km, 27.7°
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
IRM (AMPTE 3) 1984-088B 16.08.1984 CC LC-17A Delta-3924 with CCE, UKS, Solar Cell Experiment


Further AMPTE missions: