, Volume 126, Issue 1-4, pp 113-164
Date: 18 Jan 2007

The Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms (ASPERA-3) for the Mars Express Mission

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The general scientific objective of the ASPERA-3 experiment is to study the solar wind – atmosphere interaction and to characterize the plasma and neutral gas environment with within the space near Mars through the use of energetic neutral atom (ENA) imaging and measuring local ion and electron plasma. The ASPERA-3 instrument comprises four sensors: two ENA sensors, one electron spectrometer, and one ion spectrometer. The Neutral Particle Imager (NPI) provides measurements of the integral ENA flux (0.1–60 keV) with no mass and energy resolution, but high angular resolution. The measurement principle is based on registering products (secondary ions, sputtered neutrals, reflected neutrals) of the ENA interaction with a graphite-coated surface. The Neutral Particle Detector (NPD) provides measurements of the ENA flux, resolving velocity (the hydrogen energy range is 0.1–10 keV) and mass (H and O) with a coarse angular resolution. The measurement principle is based on the surface reflection technique. The Electron Spectrometer (ELS) is a standard top-hat electrostatic analyzer in a very compact design which covers the energy range 0.01–20 keV. These three sensors are located on a scanning platform which provides scanning through 180 of rotation. The instrument also contains an ion mass analyzer (IMA). Mechanically IMA is a separate unit connected by a cable to the ASPERA-3 main unit. IMA provides ion measurements in the energy range 0.01–36 keV/charge for the main ion components H+, He++, He+, O+, and the group of molecular ions 20–80 amu/q. ASPERA-3 also includes its own DC/DC converters and digital processing unit (DPU).