home mission science technology multimedia education media

Cometary and Intersteller Dust Analyzer

During its operation, a light flash, which accompanies the dust impact on the target, is detected and used to set the zero for the TOF measurement. Electrostatic grids extract ions, depending from the impact microplasma. These ions move down a bent-tube TOF MS, with an electrostatic reflector to focus ions of similar energies onto the ion detector. By measuring their arrival time, the mass of the ions can be determined. It is expected that at the 6.1 km/s flyby speed, molecular ions as well as atomic ions will be important in the observations. The instrument is sensitive at least over the range AMU=1 to 150, though sub-micron sized particles produce observable signals and compositional profiles too.

Comet and Interstellar Dust flux analyzer shown by itself.

Comet and Interstellar Dust flux analyzer shown by itself.
Courtesy: Max Planck Institut Für Aeronomie

The use of a recorder mode allow a superior data set to be collected, than what was possible from the data-constrained links that were available during previous PIA flights. Most of this data will be played back slowly over ensuing days or weeks after the comet flyby.

The co-investigator in charge of the CIDA is Jochen Kissel of MPE, the Max-Planck-Institut f. Aeronomie in Lindau, Germany. The instrument has been developed and built by von Hoerner & Sulger GmbH in Schwetzingen, Germany, in close cooperation with the MPE under contract by the DARA, Deutsche Agentur f|r Raumfahrtangelegenheiten, Bonn. Software for the CIDA instrument is being developed by The Finnish Meterological Institute, Helsinki.

Science In-Depth

Exploring Comets

Meet The Science Team