This Phase I SBIR project will investigate the feasibility of a miniature atomic magnetometer, both as a stable scalar device for calibrating fluxgate magnetometers in flight and also as a vector device capable of complimenting fluxgate magnetometers. Missions to Europa will seek to confirm that moon’s underground sea by measuring Europa’s effect on Jupiter’s magnetic field. Meeting this science goal requires a very stable magnetometer. The helium vector-scalar magnetometer is a mature technology for this requirement, but recent work has shown that alkali vapor magnetometers can provide the needed stability with better SWAP. The proposed magnetometer is based on atomic alignment, which has high sensitivity and inherently less heading error. Also proposed is a way to operate the magnetometer that allows it to provide both vector and scalar information. Finally, the Phase I research will test the radiation hardness of the vapor cell and polarization optics. These are key components of the magnetometer that are not commonly used for other instruments, and therefore radiation data is not available for them.
Magnetometers are used on missions to planets and moons as well as studies of Earth's radiation system and space weather. Many of these missions would benefit from improved stability with a smaller SWAP.
Defense applications include anti-submarine applications and detecting hidden tanks, reinforced bunkers, etc. Civilian applications include oil and mineral exploration, mining, buried object detection, and the recovery of objects lost at sea. Medical applications include the measurement of the magnetic field produced by each heartbeat. Maps of this field can be used to diagnose certain common ailments.