You are here

Sensor, Magnetic Aspect, Aerobee


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Rockets and Missiles exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

This is a commercially produced magnetic aspect sensor typical of those used on Aerobee sounding rockets to determine orientation. Manufactured by Schonstedt Engineering for the Naval Research Laboratory in the 1950s, these cylindrical magnetometers were controlled by electronics in a small rectangular box which connected to the on board telemetry system. The magnetometer element sensed its orientation with respect to the earth's magnetic field, and knowing the instantaneous position of the rocket, its orientation in space could then be determined. Typically two sensors provided information about the rate of rotation of the rocket about its axis. Two magnetomers such as this one were installed in the nose cone of an Aerobee rocket that reached an altitude of of 158.5 miles on November 20, 1956. That flight, launched from Churchill in far northern Canada, provided a wealth of information on the composition of the upper atmosphere. This magnetic aspect sensor was transferred to NASM from the Naval Research Laboratory in 1992 through Charles Y. Johnson who was in charge of that successful flight.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Transferred from the Naval Research Laboratory


Overall - metal


3-D: 12.7 x 4.4 x 7cm (5 x 1 3/4 x 2 3/4 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America



Inventory Number


Related Topics