University of Oulu

Sarris, T. E., Talaat, E. R., Palmroth, M., Dandouras, I., Armandillo, E., Kervalishvili, G., Buchert, S., Tourgaidis, S., Malaspina, D. M., Jaynes, A. N., Paschalidis, N., Sample, J., Halekas, J., Doornbos, E., Lappas, V., Moretto Jørgensen, T., Stolle, C., Clilverd, M., Wu, Q., Sandberg, I., Pirnaris, P., and Aikio, A.: Daedalus: a low-flying spacecraft for in situ exploration of the lower thermosphere–ionosphere, Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 9, 153–191,, 2020

Daedalus : a low-flying spacecraft for in situ exploration of the lower thermosphere–ionosphere

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Author: Sarris, Theodoros E.1; Talaat, Elsayed R.2; Palmroth, Minna3,4;
Organizations: 1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi, 67132, Greece
2National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
3Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, 00014, Finland
4Finnish Meteorological Institute, Space and Earth Observation Center, Helsinki, Finland
5Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP), Université de Toulouse/CNRS/UPS/CNES, Toulouse, 31028, France
6Space Engineering Consultant, Eventech Ltd, Dzerbenes street 14, Riga, 1006, Latvia
7German Research Centre for Geosciences, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
8Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala, 75121, Sweden
9Space Programmes Unit, Athena Research & Innovation Centre, Amarousio Athens, 15125, Greece
10Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80026, USA
11Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80303, USA
12Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-1479, USA
13NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
14Department of Physics, Montana State University, Bozeman, MTCE1 59717-2220, USA
15Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute – KNMI, P.O. Box 201, 3730 AE De Bilt, the Netherlands
16Department of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen, Bergen, 5520, Norway
17British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, CB30ERT, UK
18High Altitude Observatory, NCAR, Boulder, CO 80307-3000, USA
19Space Applications & Research Consultancy (SPARC), Athens, 10677, Greece
20University of Oulu, Ionospheric Physics Unit, Oulu, 90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 11.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Copernicus Publications, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-06-22


The Daedalus mission has been proposed to the European Space Agency (ESA) in response to the call for ideas for the Earth Observation program’s 10th Earth Explorer. It was selected in 2018 as one of three candidates for a phase-0 feasibility study. The goal of the mission is to quantify the key electrodynamic processes that determine the structure and composition of the upper atmosphere, the gateway between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. An innovative preliminary mission design allows Daedalus to access electrodynamics processes down to altitudes of 150 km and below. Daedalus will perform in situ measurements of plasma density and temperature, ion drift, neutral density and wind, ion and neutral composition, electric and magnetic fields, and precipitating particles. These measurements will unambiguously quantify the amount of energy deposited in the upper atmosphere during active and quiet geomagnetic times via Joule heating and energetic particle precipitation, estimates of which currently vary by orders of magnitude between models and observation methods. An innovation of the Daedalus preliminary mission concept is that it includes the release of subsatellites at low altitudes: combined with the main spacecraft, these subsatellites will provide multipoint measurements throughout the lower thermosphere–ionosphere (LTI) region, down to altitudes below 120 km, in the heart of the most under-explored region in the Earth’s atmosphere. This paper describes Daedalus as originally proposed to the ESA.

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Series: Geoscientific instrumentation, methods and data systems
ISSN: 2193-0856
ISSN-E: 2193-0864
ISSN-L: 2193-0856
Volume: 9
Pages: 153 - 191
DOI: 10.5194/gi-9-153-2020
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 115 Astronomy and space science
Funding: This work has been supported in part by an ESA contract (grant no. 4000127346/19/NL/IA) and DUTH (project no. KE82324). The work of Minna Palmroth is supported by the European Research Council Consolidator (grant no. 682068-PRESTISSIMO) and the Academy of Finland (grant nos. 312351 and 309937). The research was also funded by the National Environment Research Council Highlight Topic (grant no. NE/P10738X, Rad-Sat) and the National Environment Research Council (grant no. NE/R016455/1).
Dataset Reference: The data used to support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.
Copyright information: © Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.