A new in-beam dust coordinate sensor (DCS) at the Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS) dust accelerator facility has been constructed and is now in use. The dust sensor operates by measuring the image charges induced on two planes of wire electrodes by passing charged dust particles. Applications for the DCS include the quantitative evaluation and improvements of the focusing and steering elements of the accelerator, and the correlation of particle velocity and mass with impact sites using precision particle location. For focusing and steering improvements, particle positions to 0.25 mm are plotted in real-time. It is possible to determine a typical particle’s position within the beamline to < 0.1 mm. The design, simulation and results of the DCS are further discussed in the paper “Characteristics of a new dust coordinate sensor” published in the journal Measurement Science and Technology.

The paper’s first author, Paige Northway, was a physics undergraduate student with NLSI’s CCLDAS team and who has been accepted to grad school at U. Washington in Seattle. Congratulations Paige!


This time-lapse video documents construction of the Hypervelocity Dust Accelerator from start to finish. Credit: CCLDAS

The hypervelocity dust accelerator consists of a 3 MV Pelletron generator with a dust source, four image charge pickup detectors, and two interchangeable target chambers: a large high-vacuum test bed and an ultra-high vacuum impact study chamber. The large test bed is a 1.2 m diameter, 1.5 m long cylindrical vacuum chamber capable of pressures as low as 10−7 torr while the ultra-high vacuum chamber is a 0.75 m diameter, 1.1 m long chamber capable of pressures as low as 10−10 torr.


Schematic of the CCLDAS dust accelerator. The dust beam originates from the dust source, where particles become positively charged. The electrostatic field then accelerates the charged particles. The particles are detected and characterized while passing through the beamline detectors and down-selected based on their velocity by a particle selection unit (PSU). Credit: CCLDAS/Shu et al

A full review of the scientific instrument has been published in the American Institute of Physics.

Quick Accelerator Facts:
* Energies up to 3 MV
* Particle sizes: 0.2 – 2.5 microns
* Particle velocities: 1 – 100 km/s

The CCLDAS dust facility is a user facility open to the scientific community to assist with instrument calibrations and experiments. It is available for use by scientists and students from other institutions.

For questions regarding the use of any CCLDAS facilities, please contact:

Professor Mihály Horányi
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
1234 Innovation Drive
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80303
Telephone: 303-492-6903

To learn more about the CCLDAS Facilities, including the Lunar Environment Impact Laboratory and Duane Dusty Plasma Laboratory, visit http://lasp.colorado.edu/ccldas/facilities.html

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff
Source: NLSI Team

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