CIRCUS : studying the ionosphere with STAR

(report 2015)

CIRCUS aims to achieve in-situ plasma measurements of electron density and temperature in the ionospheret, thanks to the first-time use of the high-speed STAR radio receiver. The measurements will be made at a high temporal resolution of less than one millisecond thanks to the spectroscopic technique of the thermal electrostatic noise. The main issues are to constrain ionospheric models on a large scale and to explore ionospheric turbulence on a very small scale.

The STAR project is a joint R D study between teams at LESIA and at LTCI / Télécom - ParisTech, supported through CNES.. The goal is to study how to conceive a new miniaturized space radio receiver architecture covering the 1 kHz - 100 MHz range with a great dynamic range. This all-digital design will enable intelligent on-board processing to reduce telemetry while maintaining full scientific return. It is designed to be compatible with the constraints of conventional space platforms (NASA or ESA missions), but also those of nanosatellites where the available power is a lot less. It will be proposed for space exploration missions of the solar system, and for emerging projects of space radio interferometers with multiple scientific objectives (dark ages, galactic and extragalactic physics, internal heliosphere, space weather, giant planets, exoplanets), because frequencies below 20 MHz remain totally unexplored with the angular resolution that interferometry allows.

CIRCUS is a CubeSat project in partnership with UPMC University supported through LESIA. It is currently in the mission analysis and feasibility phase. Already selected by CNES, CIRCUS is looking for a launch in 2018. ESEP finances internships to involve students and C²ERES has seconded an expert for the project.