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Spaceflight Instrumentation

The following is a list of spaceflight instruments designed and built by Amptek or in close collaboration with Amptek. Amptek’s hybrid electronics have flown on many additional space instruments not listed here.

Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP)

Electrostatic Analyzer Detectors (ESA) designed for satellite and space systems use that detect and analyze electrons and ions (from 30 eV to 30 keV), and provide information on angular distribution of the incoming particles. Operational instruments used for Space Weather forecasting and for scientific research. Amptek has delivered 23 instruments, 18 instruments flown so far over last 22 years.

Compact Environmental Anomaly Sensor (CEASE)

CEASE is a small, low power instrument that provides operators with fully processed, real time, in situ measurements and autonomously generated warnings of the space radiation environment threats. Amptek has delivered 5 units, with 4 more in production for SES Americom communication satellites. Three have flown so far (one s/c unsuccessful). Now available as a commercial product.

Digital Ion Driftmeter (DIDM)

DIDM instruments are designed to measure the velocity vectors of ambient ions at a spacecraft’s location. Measurements of ion density and temperature are also provided. The local electrical field strength can be obtained via the relationship between electrical field, ion drift velocity and the measured magnetic field provided by on-board magnetometer. Amptek has delivered 2 instruments, both flown (one s/c unsuccessful). Third generation instrument now in design.

High Energy Proton Telescope (HEP)

HEP is a High Energy Proton telescope, a compact particle telescope which measures highly penetrating protons in space. HEP measures the differential energy spectrum of protons between 25 and 440 MeV and the integral flux above 440 MeV. Flight unit awaiting launch.

Charge Controller Experiment (CCE)

Measures particles causing spacecraft charging (electron & ions, 20 to 50 keV). Currently in operation on USAF DSCS III B7 spacecraft.

Shuttle Potential and Return Electron Experiment (SPREE)

SPREE measured electrons and ions potentially causing charging of Space Shuttle Orbiter. Flown on the Space Shuttle on the Tethered Satellite System missions (TSS-1 & TSS-1R). Included not only the ESA sensors, but a particle correlator, a DPU, and solid state recorders.

MARS Pathfinder X-ray detector

Amptek’s XR-100 X-ray detector is part of Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on board the Sojourner rover. For its unique design and reliability, this detector was selected to perform rock and soil analysis using x-ray fluorescence techniques. Landed on Mars in July 1997.

NEAR X-ray detector

Amptek’s XR-100 X-ray detector is part of X-ray/gamma x-ray spectrometer (XGRS). NEAR launched in early 1996, reached Eros in 2000.


Measured electrons and ions from 10 eV to 30 keV. Designed by Mullard Space Science Laboratory. Launched aboard CRRES in July 1990.


Measured protons from 1 to 100 MeV. Designed with MIT Center for Space Research. Launched aboard CRRES in July 1990.


Amptek designed and developed the plasma analyzer and controller units which included the Central Processor, Array Bias, Electrometer, I-V Measurement Unit, Power Conversion Unit, Interface to 10 mission instruments and S/C Payload Module, Electrostatic Analyzer (ESA), Two (2) Quartz Crystal Microbalances (QCM), and Three (3) Thermal Coating Calorimeters (CAL). Part of the Photovoltaic Array Space Power Plus Diagnostics (PASP Plus) satellite. Flown in August 1994.

HILAT – Electrostatic analyzer

Six ESAs measuring electrons between 20 eV and 20 keV in three look directions. Launched in 1983

METEOSAT F2 Electrostatic analyzer

Measured electrons between 20 eV and 20 keV. Launched in 1980

P78-1 – Electrostatic analyzer

Four ESAs, measuring electrons from 30 eV to 30 keV, in two orthogonal look directions. Launched in 1979. ESAs still operation when s/c destroyed in 1985.

ECHO 7 Electrostatic analyzer

ESA to measure electrons and ions 30 eV to 30 keV. ECHO 7 sounding rocket flown February 1988.


Measures electrons and ions from 50 eV to 20 keV in two angular bins. Amptek designed and manufactured the flight prototype. Flight unit launched June 1998 on NOAA’s TIROS satellite.

PLANET-B Mission Thermal Plasma Analyzer

Amptek designed and built high voltage power supply for the Canadian Space Agency. Launched in July 1998 for Japanese mission to Mars.


Amptek designed and built a series of Flight Data Recorders, the FDR-8000 series for use on a variety of spaceflight platforms. Twenty-seven units were produced by Amptek from 1990 to 1996. Customers included the U.S. Air Force (Shuttle Potential and Return Electron Experiment), Lockheed (OAST-02 Program), TRW, Daimler-Benz Aerospace (ASTRO-SPAS ORFEUS-II), NASA/GSFC (Shuttle Small Payloads Hitchhiker Project), Fairchild (SPAS-III), Sverdrup, University of Arizona (Lunar & Planetary Laboratory), and CIR of Switzerland (for MIR Space Station), MBB/Deutsche Aerospace (ORFEUS-SPAS), DARA, McDonnell Douglas, ALENA.

The FDRs are high performance data storage units that provide economical mass data storage. Utilizing 8 mm helical scan technology, the FDR is capable of storing up to 40 Gigabytes of uncompressed data. Compression rates up to 50:1 have been attainable, yielding 200 Gigabyte storage capacity. The unit’s enclosure is a sealed housing purged with nitrogen, providing protection for the data tape during long term storage. An internal controller supports serial data transfer, file management, error recovery, and regulation of the recorder’s operating environment.

Space missions in which Amptek’s products have been included or have been selected for flight are: