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Instrumentation for energetic Neutral atom measurements at Mars, Venus and The Earth

by Brinkfeldt, Klas

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis deals with the development and calibrations of sensors to measure energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) at Mars, Venus, and the Earth. ENAs are formed in charge exchange processes between energetic, singly--charged ions and a cold neutral gas. Since ENAs can travel in long straight trajectories, unaffected by electric or magnetic fields, they can be used to remotely image plasma interactions with neutral atmospheres. ENA instrument techniques have matured over the last decade and ENA images of the Earth's ring current for example, have successfully been analyzed to extract ion distributions and characterize plasma flows and currents in the inner magnetosphere.Three different ENA sensors have been developed to image ENAs at Mars, Venus, and the Earth. Two of them, the nearly identical Neutral Particle imagers (NPIs) are on-board the Mars Express and Venus Express spacecraft as a part of the Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms (ASPERA-3 and 4) instruments. The third is the Neutral Atom Detector Unit, NUADU, aboard the TC-2 spacecraft of the Double Star mission. The NPI design is based on a surface reflection technique to measure low energy (~0.3-60 keV) ENAs, while the NUADU instrument is based on a simple design with large geometrical factor and solid state detectors to measure high energy ENAs (~20-300 keV).The calibration approach of both NPI sensors were to define the detailed response, including properties such as the angular response function and efficiency of one reference sensor direction then find the relative response of the other sensor directions. Because of the simple geometry of the NUADU instrument, the calibration strategy involved simulations to find the cutoff energy, geometrical factor and angular response. The NUADU sensor head was then calibrated to find the response to particles of different mass and energy. The NPI sensor for the Mars Express mission revealed a so-called priority effect in the sensor that lowers the angular resolution at high detector bias. During the calibration of the Venus Express NPI sensor tests were made which showed that the priority effect is a result of low amplitude (noise) pulses generated in the detector system. The conclusion is that the effect is caused by capacitive couplings between different anode sectors of the sensor. The thresholds on the preamplifiers were set higher on the Venus Express NPI, which removed the priority effect.Two of the three ENA experiments, the Double Star NUADU instrument and the Mars Express NPI sensor, have successfully measured ENAs that are briefly described in the thesis. The first ENA measurements at Mars were performed with Mars Express. Initial results from the NPI include measurements of ENAs formed in the Martian magnetosheath and solar wind ENAs penetrating to the nightside of Mars. The first results from NUADU in Earth orbit show the expected ENA emissions from a storm time ring current. Also, together with the HENA instrument on the IMAGE spacecraft, NUADU have produced the first multi-point ENA image of the ring current.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Physics; Geocosmophysics and plasma physics; Space physics; Energetic neutral atoms; instruments and techniques; mass spectrometry; microchannel plates; solid state detectors; solar wind interaction; planets; magnetosphere; exosphere; ring current

ISBN:91-7305-993-5

Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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