Articles | Volume 1, issue 2
Research article
30 Aug 2012
Research article |  | 30 Aug 2012

Automatic parameterization for magnetometer zero offset determination

M. A. Pudney, C. M. Carr, S. J. Schwartz, and S. I. Howarth

Abstract. In-situ magnetic field measurements are of critical importance in understanding how the Sun creates and controls the heliosphere. To ensure the measurements are accurate, it is necessary to track the combined slowly varying spacecraft magnetic field and magnetometer zero offset – the systematic error in the sensor measurements. For a 3-axis stabilised spacecraft, in-flight correction of zero offsets primarily relies on the use of Alfvénic rotations in the magnetic field. We present a method to automatically determine a key parameter related to the ambient compressional variance of the signal (which determines the selection criteria for identifying clear Alfvénic rotations). We apply our method to different solar wind conditions, performing a statistical analysis of the data periods required to achieve a 70% chance of calculating an offset using Helios datasets. We find that 70% of 40 min data periods in regions of fast solar wind possess sufficient rotational content to calculate an offset. To achieve the same 70% calculation probability in regions of slow solar wind requires data periods of 2 h duration. We also find that 40 min data periods at perihelion compared to 1 h and 40 min data periods at aphelion are required to achieve the same 70% calculation probability. We compare our method with previous work that uses a fixed parameter approach and demonstrate an improvement in the calculation probability of up to 10% at aphelion and 5% at perihelion.