NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
We have previously presented a new rocket-borne time-of-flight mass spectrometer (TOF-MS) for measurements in the mesosphere / lower thermosphere (MLT). Traditionally, mass spectrometry in the MLT has been difficult, mainly due to the elevated ambient pressures of the MLT and high speeds of a sounding rocket flight, which affect the direct sampling of the ambient atmosphere and spatial resolution. The TOF-MS is a versatile, inherently adaptable, axial-sampling instrument, capable of operating in a traditional TOF mode or in a multiplexing Hadamard-transform mode where high spatial resolution is desired. To minimize bow shock effects at low altitudes (~70-110km), the ram surface of the TOF-MS can be cryogenically cooled using liquid He to adsorb impinging gas particles. The vacuum pumping system for the TOF-MS is tailored to the specific mission and instrument configuration. Depending on the instrument gas load and operating altitude, cryo, miniature turbo pump or getter-based pumping systems may be employed. Terrestrial TOF-MS instruments often employ a reflectron, essentially an ion-mirror, to improve mass resolving power and compensate for the thermal velocity distribution of particles being measured. The TOF-MS can be arranged in either a simple linear or reflectron configuration. Simulations and modeling are used to compare instrument mass resolution for linear and reflectron configurations for several variable conditions including vehicle velocity and ambient temperature, ultimately demonstrating the potential to make rocket-borne mass spectrometry measurements with unit-mass resolution up to at least 48 amu. Preliminary analyses suggest that many species of interest (including He, CO2, O2, O2 , N2, N2 , and NO ) can be measured with an uncertainty below 10% relative standard deviation on a sounding rocket flight. We also present experimental data for a laboratory prototype linear TOF-MS. Experimental data is compared to simulation and modeling efforts to validate and confirm instrument performance and capability. Two proposed rocket campaigns for investigations of the auroral region include the TOF-MS. By making accurate composition measurements of the neutral atmosphere from 70 to 120km, Mass Spectrometry of the Turbopause Region (MSTR) aims to improve the accuracy of temperature measurements in the turbopause region, improve the MSIS model atmosphere and examine the transition from the turbulently mixed lower atmosphere to the diffusive equilibrium of the upper atmosphere. The ROCKet-borne STorm Energetics of Auroral Dosing in the E-region (ROCK-STEADE) mission will study energy transfer in the E-region during an aurora by examining auroral emissions and measuring concentrations of neutrals and ions. The instrument suite for ROCK-STEADE includes two mass spectrometers, one each to measure neutrals and ions in the altitude range of 70 - 170km. The ability of the TOF-MS instrument to make accurate measurements will greatly aid in better understanding the MLT.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/addison-everett/1/