Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Mihály Horányi

Second Advisor

Zoltan Sternovsky

Third Advisor

Sascha Kempf

Fourth Advisor

Tobin Munsat

Fifth Advisor

David Brain

Abstract

Cosmic dust is abundant in space and, depending on the source, can represent the primordial building blocks of planetary formation. Over the past decades, dust research has contributed significantly to the understanding of our Solar System and a number of ongoing dynamical and geological processes. The in-situ measurement of dust particle trajectories in space allows the determination of their origin and interaction with space and planetary environments. The Dust Trajectory Sensor (DTS) instrument has been developed for the accurate measurement of the velocity vector and charge of individual cosmic dust particles with sizes down to the submicron range. The DTS works by detecting the induced charges on an array of wire electrodes created from charged dust particles passing by, and reconstructing trajectory from the induced charge signals. This work presents the method of analyzing DTS data and results from a parametric study performed to evaluate the accuracy of the measurements. A laboratory version of the DTS instrument has been constructed and tested with particles in the velocity range of 2-5 km/s using the dust accelerator facility in Heidelberg, Germany. Both the numerical study and the experimental data show that the accuracy of the DTS instrument is better than 1% in speed and 1 degree in trajectory direction. The Electrostatic Lunar Dust Analyzer (ELDA) instrument is a specific application of the DTS concept and designed for the measurement of slow-moving (1-100 m/s) charged dust particles mobilized near the lunar surface. In this case, the mass of each charged dust particle is calculated from the deflection of the trajectory using strong electrostatic fields within the instrument. The full prototype of ELDA has also been constructed and tested in the laboratory. The instrument is tested using particles with a narrow size distribution. The experimental results and the error analyses show that ELDA can measure the mass of individual particles within a factor of two even for very low signal to noise ratios.

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