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INSTITUTET FÖR RYMDFYSIK UPPSALA
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Swedish Institute of Space Physics (59o50.272'N, 17o38.786'E)
Student project at IRF Uppsala

Project work / Examensarbete (30 hp)

Rosetta LAP operations at the target comet

Student: Kristoffer Hultgren, Luleå Technical University and Université Paul Sabatier/Toulouse III
Supervisor: Anders Eriksson
Period: Spring 2009

Abstract

The ESA Rosetta mission is currently en route to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it will arrive in 2014. Among the instruments onboard, the Langmuir probe instrument LAP of the Rosetta Plasma Consortium can be expected to be particularly sensitive to early activation of the comet, as it can detect small plasma density changes even at the very low densities typical of the solar wind plasma. By running various operational modes, LAP can also characterize the denser plasmas expected to appear as the coma develops, and monitor the plasma dynamics around the comet all through the mission. In order to be able to exploit these possibilities from the start of operations at the comet, it is essential to define useful operational modes in advance. The objective of this project was to prepare for LAP operations at the comet by simulating LAP measurements in the plasma environment expected at the comet, and for what can be regarded as typical operational scenarios for the spacecraft itself. To do so, results of an ESA-sponsored modeling activity at the International Space Science Institute formed the background, combined with a simulation of the LAP measurements. The results show that for heliocentric distances less than 2 AU, the LAP probe currents are appropriate to follow the dynamics of the plasma, but to extract the electron density and temperature dependence so to give an absolute value of the former we need other instruments, e.g. MIP designed to measure the electron density and temperature, in particular inside the contact surface of the comet. The results also show that around 2 AU, Rosetta has a good chance of occasionally being located close to the contact surface which creates a very good possibility of gaining interesting data. 

Example plot


[graphics]
An example plot obtained in this project, assuming Rosetta in a circular orbit of 10 km radius in the terminator plane around the comet, at 2.0 AU heliocentric distance. The plasma density and B-field intensity maps at right show that the MHD model in the ICES package here predicts that this orbit skims the contact surface, giving rise to the peculiar patterns observed in the magnetic field (top left) and LAP probe bias sweeps (bottom left; colour code is probe current in nA). Theta is a phase angle around the comet, while the time axis gives the orbital time assuming a Kepler orbit around the comet.

Initial project description

The objective of this project is to prepare for LAP operations at the comet by simulating LAP measurements in the plasma environment expected at the comet, and for what can be regarded as typical operational scenarios for the spacecraft itself. To do so, results of an ESA-sponsored modelling activity at the International Space Science Institute (the ISSI model) and/or simulations performed at IRF in Kiruna will form the background, to be combined with a simulation of the LAP measurements. The project involves gathering of relevant model data, definition of test scenarios, coding a LAP measurement simulator, running the model, analyzing the data and assessing the results. The expected project duration is 20 weeks.

Resources

http://www.space.irfu.se/exjobb/2009_kristoffer_hultgren/index.html
last modified on Sunday, 07-Jun-2009 21:31:10 CEST