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Flight demonstration of a miniature atomic scalar magnetometer based on a microfabricated rubidium vapor cell



Haje Korth, John Kitching, John Bonnell, Brian Bryce, George Clark, Weston Edens, Christopher Gardner, Wiliam Rachelson, Amanda Slagle


We have developed an atomic magnetometer based on the rubidium isotope 87Rb and a microfabricated silicon/glass vapor cell for the purpose of qualifying the instrument for space flight during a ride-along opportunity on a sounding rocket. The instrument consisted of two scalar magnetic field sensors mounted at 45° angle to avoid measurement dead zones, and the electronics consisted of a low-voltage power supply, an analog interface, and a digital controller. The instrument was launched into the Earth's northern cusp from Andøya, Norway on 8 December 2018 on the low-flying rocket of the dual-rocket Twin Rockets to Investigate Cusp Electrodynamics 2 (TRICE-2) mission. The magnetometer operated without interruption during the science phase of the mission, and the acquired data compared favorably with those from the science magnetometer and the model of the International Geophysical Reference Field (IGRF). Residuals with respect to these data sources are plausibly attributed to offsets resulting from rocket contamination fields and electronic phase shifts. These offsets can be readily mitigated and/or calibrated for a future flight experiment so that the demonstration of this absolute-measuring magnetometer was entirely successful.
Review of Scientific Instruments


Magnetometer, Space, Quantum Sensor, Chip scale


Korth, H. , Kitching, J. , Bonnell, J. , Bryce, B. , Clark, G. , Edens, W. , Gardner, C. , Rachelson, W. and Slagle, A. (2023), Flight demonstration of a miniature atomic scalar magnetometer based on a microfabricated rubidium vapor cell, Review of Scientific Instruments, [online],, (Accessed June 17, 2024)


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Created March 3, 2023, Updated June 7, 2024