SPIE OE/Aerospace Sensing and Dual Use Photonics 1995
Conference paper

Unique man-portable 5 element fluxgate gradiometer system

View publication


In the past, fluxgate magnetometers have been limited to stationary applications due to their vector nature. Because of its small relative size, and cost, many additional potential uses and applications for the fluxgate magnetometer would be generated if this inherent motion noise could be eliminated. This paper describes a unique hardware solution that when coupled with a set of robust software algorithms, would allow the use of inexpensive fluxgate magnetometers to collect high quality data even when the sensor system is in motion. A novel three sensor gradiometer configuration patented by IBM makes this noise cancellation possible. When coupled with appropriate algorithms, significant detection and target tracking capabilities have been demonstrated. This technology has obvious advantages and applications in areas where other technologies are limited, such as buried objects including those underwater and targets intentionally hidden or obscured from visual detection. While the sensor system is still in the prototype development stage, the described techniques and technology are expected to ultimately make a small, fieldable, man-portable, tracking gradiometer a reality. Advantages of this technique are its simple implementation and wide applicability to a variety of targets and scenarios. Early test results from the first diver prototype system are presented. Several potential areas of application are reviewed, and the technological advantages and limitations discussed.