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Name: Obomanu Alex J
Reg: 11013065
Roll no: A40
Session: A1101
Course: B. Tech (Hons) - CSE
Program code:1252


Small Magnetic Sensors for Space
Abstract: Small magnetic sensors are widely used
integrated in vehicles, mobile phones, medical devices,
etc for navigation, speed, position and angular sensing.
These magnetic sensors are potential candidates for space
sector applications in which mass, volume and power
savings are important issues. This work covers the
magnetic technologies available in the market place and
the steps towards their implementation in space
applications, the Actual trend of miniaturization the front-
end technologies and the convergence of the mature and
miniaturized magnetic sensor to the space sector through
the small satellite concept.

Keywords: Miniaturized magnetic sensors, space
magnetometers, AMR-Anisotropic Magneto Resistance,
magnetic COTS-Components Off-The-Shelf

Introduction: The magnetic sensors in most common use today are
variable reluctance coils and Hall Effect devices. The drawback of
variable reluctance sensors is that they generate a signal proportional to
the magnetic field’s rate of change. Signal strength therefore decreases
with decreasing speed, and below a certain flux change rate, the signal
disappears into the noise. The excess output voltage of the coil at high-
frequency magnetic fields also causes problems for circuit designers. Hall
Effect devices generate a very small raw signal because of low field
sensitivities (0.5–5.0 mV/100 Oe applied field), and the device
performance is strongly temperature dependent. These features mandate
signal conditioning, and enquire that a certain minimum field be available
for device operation.

That is based on two phenomena: The magneto resistive effect
and the piezoelectric effect. These sensors consume no electrical power,
and easily produce a raw electrical signal with a magnetic field sensitivity
>10 mV/Oe. They combine the advantages of Hall sensors’ miniature size
and the passive nature of variable reluctance coil devices.
Potential magnetic sensors for space
1. As happens in almost every technological niche on
2. Magnetic sensors are useful for many applications in
the space sector
3. Though the most representative application is the in-
orbit Measurement of the
Magnetic field, there are some others as magnetic
4. Angular and Position sensors
5. And magnetometers or gradiometers for planetary
magnetometer. Since magnetic
Applications are so varied; the choice of magnetic
sensor can be a difficult task.
A graph the panorama of the different magnetic
sensors: the most representative technologies used
for magnetic sensing are represented as a function of their magnetic
characteristics: minimum detectable field and dynamical range. The
applications have been depicted in Ben diagrams intersecting the bars of
the technologies which can be used for the particular application. This
work is focused on potential COTS and small sensors for space
measurements of the magnetic field or magnetic gradient. The magnetic
field in-orbit can be measured for geomagnetic measurement purposes, or
also inversely, to determine the relative orientation of a spacecraft in the
geomagnetic field. This is the purpose of magnetic sensors in ACS –
Attitude Control Systems. In some missions measurement of the gradient
of the field is also needed.
Magnetic sensors for space missions. The
implementation of magnetic COTS in
spacecrafts: As it has been introduced, the history of
the magnetic sensors for space starts with the Soviet
Sputnik-3. Sputnik-3 was a 1.3 ton satellite devoted to
researching the upper atmosphere and near space. The
onboard instrumentation contained the first vector
magnetometer: a three axis fluxgate magnetometer,
which however did not succeed in the determination of the
direction of the Earth magnetic field due to the
uncertainty in the attitude of the spacecraft. Trial fluxgate
magnetometers have been widely used for monitoring the
magnetic fields of the Earth and Moon (Luna 1, Luna 2,
Pioneer Venus, Mariner 2, VENERA 1, Explorer 12, Explorer
14, and Explorer 15). Explorer 33 already foresaw a boom
for the magnetometer to avoid in part the Contribution of
the spacecraft to the total magnetic field in the orbit of the

Adaptation of COTS for space applications: As
described in the section above, both the functionality and
integration of magnetic sensing technologies are
continuously evolving. Moreover, as electronic devices and
sensors are becoming
Essential parts of our daily lives and as users test them
exhaustively the technology undergoes a continuous on-
ground qualification process by which reliability is
increased tremendously
These magnetometers are required to measure the vector and scalar
magnetic fields of the Earth with resolutions typical of the degrees 40 to
60 of the harmonics expansion for the field, the variations due to the
ionospheres interaction and other perturbations. The sensor technology
par Excellence for measuring the Earth magnetic field vector is the
fluxgate because it is the best trade-off between resolution, stability and
power consumption, mass and volume, and also some scalar
magnetometers have been used to measure the intensity of the field or to
complement the measurement obtained with fluxgates. Fluxgates are
based on the change of magnetic reluctance of a ferromagnetic core when
it is driven by an ac saturating field in the presence of a magnetic field.
The driving field is provided with the so called primary coil and the
changes in the reluctance are measured by means of the secondary coil.
These sensors are able to measure magnetic fields ranging from the MT
to the tens of PT and in the range of frequencies from dc to the order of
the operation frequency (tens of kHz).
Magnetic Fields in Industry and Medicine: There are
many places in industry and in medicine in which magnetic fields
smaller than the earth's field are of interest. The source of these
fields can be magnetized objects, electrical currents, or the Earth's
magnetic field. The low-field aspect of these applications can be
due to the distance to a magnetic object or the size of the object

All magnetic sources produce a magnetic dipole field if the
observer is at a distance from the source. Dipole fields decrease
as the inverse cube of the distance from the source. The fields are
also proportional to the volume of the source and to the maximum
magnetization at the source. A magnetized cylinder whose
diameter and length are one-half those of a larger cylinder at any
distance will have a magnetic field one-eighth as strong as the field
from the larger cylinder. In addition, doubling the distance from a
magnetized cylinder will decrease the field to one-eighth the field
at the original position. Distance and miniaturization lead to low

Objects made of soft magnetic materials are easily magnetized by
relatively small magnetic fields. These objects can be as simple as
the small iron pipes used as surveying markers or as complex as
entire automobiles and trucks. In one application, the objective is
to locate a buried object from a distance; in the other, it's to detect
the presence or passage of a vehicle close by. In both cases, the
smaller the field detected, the more useful the sensor. Also, the
field detected must be separated from the Earth's magnetic field,
which may be stronger than the field of interest.
Various methods are used to subtract the Earth's magnetic field. Because
this field is constant, it can be subtracted in applications in which the
sensor is stationary. In applications for which the field of interest is time
varying, the Earth's field can be subtracted or filtered out.

Types of sensors:
• Variable reluctance (V/R) sensors with zero cross detection
• Single-element Hall effect sensors with zero cross detection
• Zero speed, differential Hall effect sensors with offset level
• Differential Hall effect sensors with dynamic peak detection.

Variable Reluctance:
A V/R sensor or "MAG pickup" is basically a small generator that
produces an analogue voltage proportional to the size and speed
of a ferromagnetic target passing in front of the sensor. The output
voltage has an inherent characteristic that is ideal for certain types
of timing applications. The V/R sensor consists of a coil, a pole
piece, and a magnet; its equivalent electrical schematic

The variable reluctance sensor has an equivalent electrical circuit
consisting of a voltage generator example, the coil inductance
LCOIL, and the resistance of the coil wire RCOIL. The output is an AC
voltage with amplitude and frequency proportional to target speed.
In this application, the AC voltage is converted to a digital signal
using a zero cross detection circuit and passed to the controller's

The open circuit voltage, example, is proportional to the number of
turns of the coil and the rate of change of the magnetic field:

Example = n • dΦ / dt

n = number of turns in the coil
dΦ = rate of change in magnetic flux
dt = rate of change in time

The voltage waveforms generated when a target passes in front of
the sensor. The first tooth in the target profile has a width
approximately that of the diameter of the sensor pole
Piece; the second tooth is much wider. The magnetic flux
increases as the target passes in front of the sensor and
decreases as the tooth passes by. Because the output voltage
example is proportional to the flux differential with respect to the
change in time, it will first go positive as dΦ increases and then
rapidly swing negative as the dΦ slope changes from positive to
negative. The output voltage will return to zero when dΦ returns
to zero.
The changing field f caused by the moving target generates a
voltage example in the sensor coil that is proportional to the
magnetic field's rate of change. For a small tooth, the digital output
changes state when example crosses through zero and creates a
precise timing signal t1 coincident with the CENTERLINE of the
sensor pole piece; for a larger tooth, however, the zero cross point
can occur at any point between t2 and t3.

Speed Sensors: As compared to a variable reluctance coil sensor, the
PSSM sensor detects near-zero speed (0.1 Hz), is smaller, and costs about
the same. Com pared to Hall and magneto resistive devices, the PSSM
sensor has better field sensitivity, better temperature stability, and costs
less. Figure 2 shows the stability of a sensor output at a 40ºC–160ºC
temperature range without any compensation circuit. The sensor produces
a sine wave electrical signal in tens of MILLIVOLTS when a magnet
periodically passes by. The detection distance can be >1 in. when NdFeB
magnet of 3 mm DIA. by 5 mm long is placed in the object of interest.
The target’s speed is measured by the frequency of the output signal,
which is an inverse of a time period between the passing magnets. A
wheel mounted with equally spaced magnets can thus measure rotational
velocity. With a built-in electrical circuit, the sensor outputs a standard
pulsed square wave signal. Such a sensor with a bias magnet mounted
next to it can detect the rotational speed of a ferromagnetic gear at a
standoff distance of a few MILLIMETERS depending on the size (pitch)
of the gear teeth.

Flow Sensors High sensitivity and low power consumption are the two
most important criteria for flow measurement applications. Variable
reluctance coil sensors are often used because they satisfy these criteria.
The PSSM sensor is well suited for this application because it requires no
power source and offers better sensitivity in a smaller size than other
magnetic sensors. Furthermore, it works at low frequency for better
resolution in low flow measurements. An optional microprocessor-based
flow meter converts directly from flow rotor speed to flow rate.

Figure 4. A PSSM sensor placed next
Figure 3. A calibration curve of rotor
to an electric wire produces a root-
speed can be seen as a function of
mean-square signal output measured
liquid flow in a sensor with 1/3 in.
as a function of an AC electric current
pipe and a four-blade rotor.
at 50 Hz.
Electrical Current Sensors: A sensor with high linearity over a
large magnetic field range is ideal for electrical current
measurement. Hall and magneto resistive sensors, because of
their high linearity, are popular for this application. However,
their characteristics of zero offset voltage and temperature-
dependent output make electrical circuit design a complicated
matter. The PSSM sensor has been demonstrated in a simple
design and small size for electrical current sensors, current
switches, and relays. The device does not have zero offset voltage
and requires no temperature compensation for general use in
electrical current sensors. It can also be designed to maintain
linearity in magnetic fields >1000 O e for measurement of large

Piezoelectric sensor applications:

A piezoelectric sensor is a device that uses the piezoelectric
effect to measure pressure, acceleration, strain or force by
converting them to an electrical signal. Piezoelectric sensors have
proven to be versatile tools for the measurement of various
processes. They are used for quality assurance, process
control and for research and development in many different
Principle of operation:

Depending on how a piezoelectric material is cut, three main
modes of operation can be distinguished: transverse,
longitudinal, and shear.

Transverse effect:
A force is applied along a neutral axis (y) and the charges are
generated along the (x) direction, perpendicular to the line of force.
The amount of charge depends on the geometrical dimensions of
the respective piezoelectric element. When dimensions a, b,
c apply, C(x) = d(x y) F(y) b / a,
Where (a) is the dimension in line with the neutral axis (b) is in line
with the charge generating axis and d is the corresponding
piezoelectric coefficient.
Longitudinal effect
The amount of charge produced is strictly proportional to the
applied force and is independent of size and shape of the
piezoelectric element. Using several elements that are
mechanically in series and electrically in parallel is the only
way to increase the charge output. The resulting charge is:

C(x) = d (xx) F(x) n,
Where d (xx) is the piezoelectric coefficient for a charge in x-
direction released by forces applied along x-direction
(in PC/N). F(x) is the applied Force in x-direction [N] and n
corresponds to the number of stacked elements.
Shear effect
Again, the charges produced are strictly proportional to the
applied forces and are independent of the element’s size and
shape. For n elements mechanically in series and electrically
in parallel the charge is

C(x) = 2dxxFxn.
In contrast to the longitudinal and shear effects, the
transverse effect opens the possibility to fine-tune
sensitivity on the force applied and the element

Sensor design: Metal disks with piezo material, used in
buzzers or as contact microphones.
Based on piezoelectric technology various physical quantities can
be measured; the most common are pressure and acceleration.
For pressure sensors, a thin membrane and a massive base is
used, ensuring that an applied pressure specifically loads the
elements in one direction. For accelerometers, a seismic mass is
attached to the crystal elements. When the accelerometer
experiences a motion, the invariant seismic mass loads the
elements according to Newton’s second law of motion F = ma.

The main difference in the working principle between these two
cases is the way forces are applied to the sensing elements. In a
pressure sensor a thin membrane is used to transfer the force to
the elements, while in accelerometers the forces are applied by an
attached seismic mass.

Sensors often tend to be sensitive to more than one physical
quantity. Pressure sensors show false signal when they are
exposed to vibrations. Sophisticated pressure sensors therefore
use acceleration compensation elements in addition to the
pressure sensing elements. By carefully matching those elements,
the acceleration signal (released from the compensation element)
is subtracted from the combined signal of pressure and
acceleration to derive the true pressure information.

Vibration sensors can also be used to harvest otherwise wasted
energy from mechanical vibrations. This is accomplished by using
piezoelectric materials to convert mechanical strain into usable
electrical energy.

Electrical properties:

Schematic symbol and electronic model of a piezoelectric
A piezoelectric transducer has very high DC output impedance and
can be modelled as a proportional voltage source and filter
network. The voltage V at the source is directly proportional to the
applied force, pressure, or strain. The output signal is then related
to this mechanical force as if it had passed through the equivalent
Frequency response of a piezoelectric sensor; output voltage vs.
applied force
A detailed model includes the effects of the sensor's mechanical
construction and other non-fidelities. The inductance Lm is due to
the seismic mass and inertia of the sensor itself. Ca is inversely
proportional to the mechanical elasticity of the
sensor. C0 represents the static capacitance of the transducer,
resulting from an inertial mass of infinite size. R1 is the
insulation leakage resistance of the transducer element. If the
sensor is connected to a load resistance, this also acts in parallel
with the insulation resistance, both increasing the high-pass cut-off

Sensing materials:
Two main groups of materials are used for piezoelectric sensors:
piezoelectric ceramics and single crystal materials. The ceramic
materials (such as PZT ceramic) have a piezoelectric constant /
sensitivity that is roughly two orders of magnitude higher than
those of single crystal materials and can be produced by
inexpensive sintering processes. The piezoeffect in piezoceramics
is "trained", so unfortunately their high sensitivity degrades over
time. The degradation is highly correlated with temperature. The
less sensitive crystal materials (gallium phosphate, quartz, and
tourmaline) have a much higher – when carefully handled, almost
infinite – long term stability.

Piezoelectric disk used as a guitar pickup
Piezoelectric sensors have proven to be versatile tools for the
measurement of various processes. They are used for assurance,
process and for research and development in many different
industries. Although the piezoelectric effect was discovered
by Curie in 1880, it was only in the 1950s that the piezoelectric
effect started to be used for industrial sensing applications. Since
then, this measuring principle has been increasingly used and can
be regarded as a mature technology with an outstanding inherent
reliability. It has been successfully used in various applications,
such as in medical, aerospace, nuclear instrumentation, and as a
pressure sensor in the touch pads of mobile phones. In
the automotive industry, piezoelectric elements are used to
monitor combustion when developing internal combustion engines.
The sensors are either directly mounted into additional holes into
the cylinder head or the spark/glow plug is equipped with a built in
miniature piezoelectric sensor.

PSSM sensor technology shows great promise as a
replacement for other magnetic sensor technology. It will
certainly be explored and developed for many
applications such as information storage, magnetic
recording read heads, magnetic imaging for non
destructive inspection and biomedical procedures,
detection of magnetic anomalies, surveillance, and
mineral prospecting.

I wish to acknowledge the Technology for the confirmation of the
study of data related to the application of magnetic sensors in space

Reference and Note:

1. Lenz J.; Edelstein, A.S. Magnetic Sensors and their applications.
IEEE Sens. J.

2. Acuña, M.H. Space-based magnetometers. Rev. Sci. Instrum.
2002, 73, 3717-3736.

3. Keller, H.U.; OSIRIS Team. Osiris: The scientific
camera system onboard Rosetta. Space Sci.
4. Watzin, J. A GSFC perspective on the execution of
faster, better, cheaper. In IEEE Proc
5. "Piezoelectric sensors". Piezocryst website