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Swarm C: VFM instrument off for approximately 24 hours

26 August 2014

The Vector Field Magnetometer on the Swarm C satellite was temporarily switched off from 05:52 UTC on 25 August 2014, until 11:25 UTC on 26 August 2014.

On 25 August, the VFM stopped producing telemetry and the On-board Computer was automatically triggered to switch the instrument off at 05:52 UTC.

The spacecraft was near the North Pole and Space Weather did not report any special event. A careful verification of the instrument and platform house-keeping parameters and science data just before the anomaly did not highlight any significant event or conditions. The VFM instrument team at DTU (i.e. the instrument manufacturers) explained that the most probable cause is the FPGA being hit by a particle and the watchdog being directly affected by a single event without the capacity to automatically recover. This scenario is actually not unexpected, and its probability of occurrence is very low (i.e. around once per year).

The investigation team concluded that the instrument could safely be powered on again and this has been performed today (26 August 2014), at 11:25 UTC.

The instrument operation is now nominal.