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Heliophysics Technology and Instrument Development for Science

Development of a non high voltage electron spectrometer for auroral studies

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Development of a non high voltage electron spectrometer for auroral studies

Our objective is to design, build and test a prototype electron spectrometer focusing on detecting auroral electrons (1 to 20 keV) that does not use any high voltage. This will be accomplished by using a Charge-Coupled Device as the detector element, combined with a magnetic deflection system for the electron energy selection. Traditional electrostatic analyzers use a sweeping high voltage supply in order to select different energy particles as well as for powering the detector, usually a Micro-Channel Plate. We propose to eliminate both of these high voltage sources. Magnetic deflection can be used to select different energy particles and CCDs have been shown to produce a detectable response to electron impacts down to energies of around 500 eV. The combination of these two changes would lead to a very low resource instrument in terms of power as well as a low risk instrument in terms of operation in orbital and sub-orbital platforms. In the high latitude regions, where there is often high energy (kev to 10’s of keV) auroral electron precipitation, such a detector could be used at the low altitudes to measure the effects of the electron precipitation that causes ionization at altitudes between 80 and 100 km altitude, which is currently an unexplored region. In addition, the magnetic deflection technique for energy selection enables high time resolution measurements that are critical for fully resolving small scale structure and dynamics. The proposed prototype is relevant to objective 1.4 of NASA's strategic plan “to understand the Sun and its interactions with Earth and the solar system, including space weather”.

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