Space Science Reviews

, Volume 156, Issue 1–4, pp 1–12 | Cite as

A Composition Analysis Tool for the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) Instrument on New Horizons

  • R. W. Ebert
  • D. J. McComas
  • B. Rodriguez
  • P. Valek
  • S. Weidner
Short Communication


We describe the response of the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument (McComas et al. in Space Sci. Rev. 140:261, 2008) to 1–40 amu ions in order to assess whether it can be used to determine plasma composition. Our goal is to enhance the scientific return on the SWAP plasma measurements obtained during the New Horizons traversal down Jupiter’s magnetotail in 2007. We present calibration data for the SWAP flight instrument and another largely flight-like SWAP sensor, dubbed “SWAP-II”. SWAP’s mass-dependent response was characterized by analyzing the count ratios from its two channel electron multipliers (CEMs). We observe significant differences in the instrument response between light (mass ≤ He) and heavy (mass > He) ions, especially for energies below ∼4 keV. We attribute these differences to the mass-dependent electron emission yield from SWAP’s ultra-thin (∼1 μg/cm2) carbon foil. Using these results, we develop a plasma composition analysis technique to statistically distinguish between light and heavy plasma ions measured by the instrument.


New Horizons Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument Jovian magnetotail Plasma composition Secondary electron emission Thin carbon foil 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. W. Ebert
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. J. McComas
    • 1
    • 2
  • B. Rodriguez
    • 2
  • P. Valek
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Weidner
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Southwest Research InstituteSan AntonioUSA

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