Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Tobin Munsat


The Dust Coordinate Sensor (DCS) is a dual detector instrument located on the beamline of the 3 MV hypervelocity dust accelerator at the University of Colorado Institute for Modeling Plasma, Atmospheres and Cosmic Dust (IMPACT). This instrument non-destructively measures the three-dimensional trajectories of charged, hypervelocity (3-8 km/s), micron-sized dust particles in flight by utilizing the image charge induced on grids of wire electrodes. Where previous peak detection was typically limited to dust particles carrying charges >∼ 100 fC, new signal processing techniques developed for DCS allow for effective trajectory measurements on particles carrying charges as small as 6 fC. The new signal processing also reduces false signal detections by > 90%. The position measurements are matched by timestamp to the charge and velocity for each launched dust particle. Verification of the system was performed with independent impact location measurements on a target placed in the beamline. These measurements agree to within 1 mm^2 of the predicted locations using DCS trajectories. This study demonstrates the capability of the instrument including new processing methods. Precise trajectory measurement along the beamline enables new options for instrument calibration, scientific experiments, and improvement of the accelerator performance.