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Measurement of electric fields in a space plasma is not a trivial task.  How to properly ground a probe in a plasma environment is not obvious, and there are a wide variety of problems that can arise.  Unlike some other types of instruments, it may not be clear to the non-expert when electric field data is "good" and when it's bad.  With the aim of opening up the EFW data set to those whom may not be familiar with double-probe electric experiments, this page is designed to lay out the fundamental principles of operation.  Although the technical details are specific to the EFW (Electric Fields and Waves) experiment on ESA's Cluster 2 spacecraft, the general principles are applicable to any double-probe type electric field experiment.

There are 3 parts to this documentation:
  1. EFW for dummies introduces the basic physical concepts that are necessary to understand the operation of the instrument.
  2. EFW validation chain explains what to do to take raw EFW data and turn it into publishable form.
  3. Potential pitfalls explains some of the problems that are known to occur with EFW.  Since some of these problems are not at all obvious, we recommend that you look at this, even if you've used this type of data before.


last modified on 19-Nov-2002