Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Design of a Miniaturized Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer for Upper Atmosphere Composition Measurements

Class

Article

Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Faculty Mentor

Ryan Davidson

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Variations of gas density and composition in Earth's thermosphere and ionosphere are key indicators of interactions between different layers of Earth's atmosphere. The nature of interactions between neutral and ion species in the upper atmosphere is an active area of study in Heliophysics and there is much to learn about the dynamic relationship between the ionosphere and neutral thermosphere. Mass Spectrometers are among an array of instruments used to explore Earth's upper atmosphere and other space environments. In the past, data from mass spectrometers flown in low earth orbit has been used both to improve atmospheric models and to study the dynamics of the ionosphere and thermosphere. Normally, these instruments are substantial in size and deployed on larger satellites. Data from these larger instruments generally provides information from a specific point in time at a single location. Studies of atmospheric density and composition with multiple locations for each time point could be performed by CubeSat swarms if proper instrumentation were available to fit CubeSat payload restrictions. The proposed miniaturized time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer (MS) will have a mass resolution and range sufficient for measuring the composition of Earth's thermosphere and ionosphere while operating within the power and space constraints of a CubeSat. The capabilities of this instrument would potentially dramatically reduce the cost of future missions while simultaneously enhancing the science return. The design employs miniaturization of TOF-MS technology, including resolution refinement techniques used for larger instruments and standard concepts for TOF-MS components such as acceleration grids, a Bradbury-Nielsen wire gate, a gridless ion mirror, and microchannel plate detector. The presentation will cover the proposed research mission, instrument design, and available design analysis and test results.

Start Date

4-9-2015 3:00 PM

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Apr 9th, 3:00 PM

Design of a Miniaturized Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer for Upper Atmosphere Composition Measurements

Variations of gas density and composition in Earth's thermosphere and ionosphere are key indicators of interactions between different layers of Earth's atmosphere. The nature of interactions between neutral and ion species in the upper atmosphere is an active area of study in Heliophysics and there is much to learn about the dynamic relationship between the ionosphere and neutral thermosphere. Mass Spectrometers are among an array of instruments used to explore Earth's upper atmosphere and other space environments. In the past, data from mass spectrometers flown in low earth orbit has been used both to improve atmospheric models and to study the dynamics of the ionosphere and thermosphere. Normally, these instruments are substantial in size and deployed on larger satellites. Data from these larger instruments generally provides information from a specific point in time at a single location. Studies of atmospheric density and composition with multiple locations for each time point could be performed by CubeSat swarms if proper instrumentation were available to fit CubeSat payload restrictions. The proposed miniaturized time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer (MS) will have a mass resolution and range sufficient for measuring the composition of Earth's thermosphere and ionosphere while operating within the power and space constraints of a CubeSat. The capabilities of this instrument would potentially dramatically reduce the cost of future missions while simultaneously enhancing the science return. The design employs miniaturization of TOF-MS technology, including resolution refinement techniques used for larger instruments and standard concepts for TOF-MS components such as acceleration grids, a Bradbury-Nielsen wire gate, a gridless ion mirror, and microchannel plate detector. The presentation will cover the proposed research mission, instrument design, and available design analysis and test results.