A Compact Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer for the Exocube Mission
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Demand is high for in situ measurements of atmospheric neutral and ion composition and density, not only for studies of the dynamic ionosphere-theremosphere-mesosphere system but simply to define the steady state background atmospheric conditions. The ExoCube mission is designed to acquire global knowledge of in-situ densities of [H], [He], [O] and [H+], [He+], [O+] in the upper ionosphere and lower exosphere in combination with incoherent scatter radar ground stations distributed in the north polar region. The Heliophysic Division of GSFC has developed a compact Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) for in situ measurements of ions and neutrals H, He, N, O, N2, O2 with M/dM of approximately 10 at an incoming energy range of 0-50eV. The INMS is based on front end optics, post acceleration, gated time of flight, ESA and CEM or MCP detectors. The compact sensor has a dual symmetric configuration with the ion and neutral sensor heads on opposite sides and with full electronics in the middle. The neutral front end optics includes thermionic emission ionization and ion blocking grids, and the ion front end optics includes spacecraft potential compensation grids. The electronics include front end, fast gating, HVPS, ionizer, TOF binning and full bi directional C&DH digital electronics. The data package includes 400 mass bins each for ions and neutrals and key housekeeping data for instrument health and calibration. The data sampling can be commanded as fast as 10 msec per frame (corresponding to ~80 m spatial separation) in burst mode, and has significant onboard storage capability and data compression scheme. Experimental data from instrument testing with both ions and neutrals will be presented. The instrument is successfully integrated in the CubeSat and passed vibration, thermal and shock testing. The ExoCube mission is scheduled to fly in Nov 2014 in a 445 x 670 km polar orbit with the INMS aperture oriented in the ram direction. This miniaturized instrument (1.5U), weighing only 560 g and requiring nominal power of 1.6W, will provide the first in situ measurement of exospheric hydrogen and will measure in situ atomic oxygen for the first time in decades.