Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In

Skip Navigation LinksMagnetics testing


Instrument Description

Since the radioisotope power system (RPS) is an electric-current generator, its operation produces its own magnetic field. Therefore, limitations on the strength of magnetic field produced by the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) are specified. If unknown or too strong, this magnetic field can have serious negative consequences to certain scientific objectives such as fly-by mapping of the magnetic fields emanating from planets and interference with scientific instrumentation on board the spacecraft that are frequently based on some magnetic phenomenon.

The magnetic field that is measured and characterized at SSPSF is generally three to four orders of magnitude (1/1,000th to 1/10,000th) less than the strength of the earth's magnetic field, between about 5 and 40 nanotesla. To characterize fields this small accurately, great care must be taken to remove the background magnetism. Since magnetic fields cannot be effectively shielded (unlike electric fields, magnetic fields penetrate everything) they must be compensated for in other ways. The tri-axial digital fluxgate magnetometers are used to do this. Other measures are also taken -- the magnetic field that is measured is disturbed by such things as personnel walking by several meters away, opening and closing of doors, or vehicle movement outside the building, as well as things that cannot be controlled, such as variations in the sun's magnetic field. It often takes many runs to obtain measurements that are accurate and precise enough to be used for NASA's purposes. Actual measurements on the RTG are taken at the quietest times possible -- and being located in the remote areas of the Idaho desert contributes greatly to our ability to make these measurements. 




Magnetic testings are part of several steps in ensuring proper assembly and finished product quality of the RPS. The magnetic testing area is used to verify the magnetic field of an RPS is appropriate. The limitations on the strength of magnetic field produced by the RTG are specified.


Equipment capabilities include:

  • 4 tri-axial digital fluxgate magnetometers

  • Nonmagnetic rotation platform

  • Field measurement range:  -65,000nT to +65,000nT

  • Sensitivity 28 bit at 4096 sample averaging

Instrument sample preparation area; Shielded optical microscopy vacuum testing chambers testing properties gross and isotopic gamma scanning; Instron remote load frame gas measurement and analysis accident condition simulator furnace extrusion; Metallic fuel line; Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative glovebox; Glovebox advance casting system furnace; Metallic fuel line; Metallic fuel line handling; Inert-radiological gloveboxes; Uranium handling repackaging glovebox; Transuranic breakout glovebox gamma irradiator surveillance glovebox line; Cell area Quanta 3D FEG dual-beam SEM FIB JSM-7000f SEM; Gatan precision etching and coating system; Gatan precision ion polishing systems II; Gatan precision ion polishing systems JEM 2010 STEM Cameca SX100R EPMA FEI QUANTA 3D FEG Titan ChemiSTEM FEG-STEM FEI Helios dual-beam SEM-plasma FIB diffraction; Micro X-ray diffractometer Di LemmaJEOL JSM-7000f SEM coupled plasma-mass spectrometer coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometer; Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer coupled plasma-mass spectrometer advance casting system furnace; Hot uniaxial press furnace mass spectrometer; ELTRA CS-800; ELTRA ONH-2000 furnace; Differential scanning calorimeter; Simultaneous thermal analyzer; Pushrod dilatometer; Laser flash analyzer Separator Laboratories X-ray diffractometer; X-ray diffraction; Hot uniaxial press furnace
1 - 30Next