A new method for studying ions around comets in space has been developed. » Brinkwire


A new method for studying ions around comets in space has been developed.

On November 26, 2021, Sofia Bergman of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) and Ume University successfully defended her doctoral thesis on low-energy ions around comet 67PChuryumov-Gerasimenko. Low-energy ions are notoriously difficult to monitor because their properties are heavily influenced by the spacecraft that observes them. Sofia has come up with innovative strategies to accomplish this. Scientists may be examining low-energy ions near comets and in a number of other areas in the Solar System because of her research.

Comets live in an environment that consists of a significant amount of low-energy ions. To understand the physical processes occurring around the comet, it is important to understand the properties of these low-energy ions.

Because measuring low-energy ions is difficult, Sofia Bergman devised a new approach for analyzing ion values ​​near comet 67PC. In her thesis, huryumov-Gerasimenko mentions huryumov-Gerasimenko.

“A spacecraft interacts with its environment, resulting in an accumulation of charge on the surface of the spacecraft.” This is annoying for low-energy ion measurements because the ions are hit by the spacecraft before they are detected, affecting their energy and direction of flight. We want to know the initial properties of the ions before they were influenced by the spacecraft, which is now achievable thanks to the method created by Sofia Bergman in her thesis.

Data from the IRF’s Ion Composition Analyzer (ICA) ion mass spectrometer on board Rosetta were analyzed in this thesis. ICA can measure the energy and travel direction of ions with very low energies, but low-energy data from ICA have traditionally proven difficult to interpret due to the influence of the spacecraft potential on the values.

“We were able to estimate the flow directions of low-energy ions seen by ICA at comet 67PChuryumov-Gerasimenko for the first time,” Sofia Bergman said. “The results were unexpected. Instead of flowing out as expected, we detect a huge volume of ions moving inward to the comet nucleus.” Comets are fascinated to explore as they try to figure out how the solar wind interacts with various creatures in the Solar System. The eccentric orbits of comets modify the environment around them drastically. We can see how a magnetosphere forms around the comet as the distance between it and the Sun varies. Low-energy ions play a crucial role in this interaction, and not just in comets: “The approach I developed in my thesis can also be used to explore low-energy ions around the world …” Summary of Brinkwire’s latest news .

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