PACKMAN – A portable instrument to investigate space weather

Thasshwin Mathanlal* (Corresponding Author), Abhilash Vakkada Ramachandran, Maria-Paz Zorzano Mier, Javier Martin-Torres

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


PACKMAN (PArticle Counter k-index Magnetic ANomaly) is an autonomous, light and robust space weather instrument for operation within the subsurface, surface and atmosphere (as payload in stratospheric balloons) of the Earth. It has been designed using Commercial OffThe-Shelf (COTS) components to reduce the cost of each unit and to allow to have multiple units monitoring simultaneously at different sites and also incorporate an open-access citizen science approach. The hardware-core of each PACKMAN units, weights around 600 g and
consumes about 500 mA of current at 12 V. PACKMAN has been deployed at multiple latitudes and altitudes ranging from stratospheric heights (corroborating its TRL8 maturity) to subsurface depths of around 1 km. The data from PACKMAN have been compared with the state-of-the-art ground-based observatories, and satellites and scientific observations have been documented. A 3-D network of PACKMAN units operating continuously around the globe, from the subsurface to the stratosphere, would help to improve the understanding of the space weather phenomena, and its implications on the climate and infrastructures. PACKMAN is also an excellent tool for education and outreach. This article outlines the building instructions of two types of PACKMAN units: PACKMAN-S for ground-based measurements and PACKMAN-B for stratospheric measurements aboard high-altitude balloons.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00169
Number of pages22
Early online date26 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

The authors of the paper would like to acknowledge the Dark Matter Research facility, Boulby Mine, UK Center for Astrobiology, Zero2Infinity, Esrange and the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) for their support to this collaborative initiative. The
results presented in this paper have been compared with data collected at magnetic observatories. We thank the British Geological Survey for the open-access data from the magnetic observatories and GFZ Postdam for the Kp index data. The authors of the paper would also like to thank Miracle Israel Nazarious for his help with graphs. MPZ has been partially funded by the
Spanish State Research Agency (AEI) Project No. MDM-2017-0737 Unidad de Excelencia ‘‘María de Maeztu”- Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA) and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (PID2019-104205GB-C21)


  • space weather
  • Radiation
  • COTS
  • Open-Source
  • Magnetic anomaly
  • Earth observation


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