Dynamics Explorer

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Dynamics Explorer
Operator NASA
Mission type Atmospheric observation
Launch vehicle Delta 3000
COSPAR ID 1981-070A, 1981-070B
Mass 424 Kg each
Power 86 watts
Orbital elements
Orbital period 98 minutes

Dynamics Explorer was a NASA mission, launched on August 3, 1981 and terminated on February 28, 1991.[1] It consisted of two unmanned satellites, DE-1 and DE-2, whose purpose was to investigate the interractions between plasmas in the magnetosphere and those in the ionosphere.[2] The two satellites were launched together into polar coplanar orbits, which allowed them to simultaneously observe the upper and lower parts of the atmosphere.


Both spacecraft had a polygonal shape, and were approximately 137 cm in diameter and 115 cm high. Each also had a 200-cm radio antenna and two 6-meter booms which were needed to distance some of the equipment from the main body of the spacecraft. They were stacked on top of each other and launched aboard a Delta 3000 booster rocket. Upon reaching orbit, the two spacecraft departed from the booster and entered separate orbits. Dynamics Explorer 1 was placed into a high altitude elliptical orbit, while DE-2 was put into a lower orbit that was also more circular.

Dynamics Explorer 1 Instrumentation[edit]

The main instrument aboard Dynamics Explorer 1 was the Plasma Wave Instrument (PWI). This instrument, designed and built by the Plasma Wave Group, measured auroral kilometric radiation, auroral hiss, Z-mode radiation, and narrow band electromagnetic emissions. Additional Instruments aboard the spacecraft included:

  • The Spin-scan Auroral Imager (SAI)
  • The Retarding Ion Mass Spectrometer (RIMS)
  • The Energetic Ion Mass Spectrometer (EIMS)

Dynamics Explorer 2 Instrumentation[edit]

The Dynamics Explorer 2 carried the following instruments for data collection:

Mission Results[edit]

As a result of a malfunction in the Delta 3000 booster rocket in which its main engine shut off slightly early, DE-2 was placed into a slightly lower orbit than was anticipated. This was not a serious problem, however, and the spacecraft had lasted its expected lifespan when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on February 19, 1983. DE-1, being in a higher orbit, continued to collect data until 1991, when the mission was officially terminated.


  1. ^ DE (Dynamics Explorer)
  2. ^ NSSDC Master Catalog
  3. ^ Dynamics Explorer 2

External links[edit]