/SpEED Demon
SpEED Demon2022-09-19T17:09:50-04:00

SpEED Demon is a NASA funded sounding rocket technology-demonstration risk-reduction mission that will test a comprehensive science instrumentation package with a sounding rocket launch during the week of August 22-26 (2022) from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The launch window will run every day of that week from 9 pm to 1 am Local Time.

SpEED Demon stands for ‘Sporadic-E ElectroDynamics Demonstration’ mission. The exact same payload will fly on the NASA funded SEED mission, with the scientific goal of studying low-latitude Sporadic-E layers.

The main payload consists of a Sweeping Langmuir Probe for plasma density and electron temperature, a pair of multi-Needle Langmuir Probes for 5KHz electron density, Positive Ion Probe for relative ion density, ionization gauges and sensitive accelerometers for background neutral density, a suite of sensitive magnetometers and a pair of electric field measurements. The main payload will also eject four sub-payloads, each carrying ion density measurement along with a sensitive magnetometer and an accelerometer capable of performing ‘falling sphere’ analogous neutral density measurements. The launch will be supported by ground-based observations from VIPIR Dynasonde as well as MIT Millstone Haystack ISR.

While SpEED Demon will not wait for optimal science conditions to launch, late August is the tail end of the Norther Hemisphere Sporadic-E Layer season. Thus, there exists a possibility to launch into an active layer and hence perform the first simultaneous multi-point observations of a mid-latitude  Es layer.

Most instruments will be operated at 5KHz sampling rate giving a better than 30 cm spatial resolution of most physical quantities: plasma and neutral density, magnetic and electric fields.

Versions of the mNLP, PIP and FPP instruments are also being built for the NASA ESCAPADE dual satellite mission to Mars. Thus, this mission will also increase the TRL of these instruments for the interplanetary missions.

Further technical details of the instrumented rocket payload are available in a poster presented at the inaugural Sounding Rocket Symposium poster presented at the inaugural Sounding Rocket Symposium at NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Aug 2022.

SpEED Demon Mission Patch

SpEED Demon sounding rocket payload with booms deployed after spin testing. Peter Ribbens (MS Student) and Nathan Graves (PhD student) with Dr. Barjatya and Dr. Clayton during I&T at Wallops Island.
Credits: NASA Wallops/Berit Bland