[Image of a fluxgate magnetometer in its housing with its frayed MLI-coated cable curled round it. The destroyed connectors can be seen. The whole assembly is sitting on top of an antistatic envelope. The sensor housing reads: "CLUSTER-FGM SENSOR 08 FM1", where FM means "flight model".]

I gave an outreach talk at an open day this morning, to about a hundred A-level students, their parents and their teachers. The talk was focused on the Cassini end-of-mission science, but I managed to sneak in this bit of space history when explaining what a magnetometer does.

The fluxgate in the photo above actually went into space for a few brief seconds. It got about 5 km up before it was unceremoniously returned to the Earth. The Ariane 5 rocket that launched the spacecraft whose payload it was part of had exploded, showering the swamps of French Guiana with wreckage.

This sensor sat in that swamp for a good few weeks before a French Foreign Legionnaire fished it out.

I'm afraid that being blown up and mouldering in a tropical pond was, in fact, enough to kill it, but it's still a pretty cool object, and the students seemed to like seeing it very much.
quoththeravyn: El Greco style Don Quixote pic from (Default)

From: [personal profile] quoththeravyn

Now that is a space artifact. I've seen flight spares, and (successfully returned) shuttle payloads. Also a little UV telescope once flown on the X-15. But this...
st_aurafina: Rainbow DNA (Default)

From: [personal profile] st_aurafina

That is so cool. And somehow, landing in a swamp and getting found by a legionnaire makes it even more cool.
cmcmck: (Default)

From: [personal profile] cmcmck

Industrial archaeology of a sort and you know me and industrial archaeology! :o)
lurkingcat: (Space Shuttle)

From: [personal profile] lurkingcat

That is a very cool little piece of space history.
mysterysquid: (Default)

From: [personal profile] mysterysquid

Ooh, awesome.

Also, how good is Grimes? And she's what - twelve?
pheloniusfriar: (Default)

From: [personal profile] pheloniusfriar

I'm totally geeking out! Very, very cool! Doubly so that it has such an unusual history...
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)

From: [personal profile] silveradept

Neat SPACE object there! Maybe that helped show off the coolness of STEM to several of the women and girls in the crowd.
paw_prints: (Default)

From: [personal profile] paw_prints

It looks well reserved given what it went through. (Not that I know anything about fluxgate magnetometers!)
jesse_the_k: White girl with braids grinning under large Russian beaver hat (JK 10 happy hat)

From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k

I am unreasonably pleased that a flux magnetometer is a true thing, given the iconicity of the "flux capacitor" in SF (Back to the future movies; it was the MacGuffin enabling time travel).