Space is an environment of extreme parameters. Wide temperature swings, very low pressures (vacuum), moderate to high radiation, mechanical vibrations and impacts, etc. Thus, components for space applications, which need to stand these hard conditions, are normally very expensive and it often takes a while to include emerging technologies in the space market. This means that space components are not always that innovative.
The case of vector magnetometers is not an exception. Since the beginning of the space exploration mainly fluxgate magnetometers have been used for magnetic mapping . Fluxgates are robust sensors and massive core fluxgates present very good performances for geomagnetic mapping and further exploration in the solar system. Besides, they are normally combined with a scalar absolute sensor for calibration of the vector magnetometer.
In an attempt to be able to get ready as fast as possible to use emerging magnetic sensing technologies for space applications, INTA has devoted some effort in the qualification for flight use, of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solid state magnetic sensors, as AMR and GMR sensors [2-4].
In this chapter we describe the chain of testing and adaptation of the available commercial GMR sensors for an experimental payload in a picosatellite (OPTOS, 3 kg). We present the calibration tests results and the expectations we have for the in-orbit measurements.