The development of space magnetometers is one of the two focal points within the research field of flight instruments.
Magnetometers measure magnetic fields. The development of such instruments has a long tradition at IWF. The first magnetometer developed in Graz was launched aboard the Russian (former USSR) VENERA-13 satellite to Venus in 1981. Others investigated Mars, asteroids, and comets. The main targets of current and future missions will be the Earth (CSES, GEO-KOMPSAT-2A, MMS, THEMIS), Mercury (BepiColombo), Mars (Chinese Mars Mission), Jupiter (JUICE), and a dynamically-new comet or interstellar object (Comet Interceptor). The major international partners for the development of magnetometers are the Technical University of Braunschweig, the Imperial College London, the University of California, Los Angeles, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Tokyo, and the National Space Science Center in Beijing.
During the last years, space magnetometers have been significantly improved. IWF has focused on the miniaturization of the near sensor electronics and the calibration of the magnetometers. In close cooperation with the Institute of Experimental Physics of Graz University of Technology, IWF has developed a new type of scalar magnetometer (CDSM), which has experienced its space approval aboard the Chinese CSES mission.
A close cooperation with the Conrad Observatory of the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) enables the calibration of the magnetic field sensors in a "magnetically clean" environment. Among other facilities, a three-metre coil system is used for this purpose.