Proposal for a universal particle detector experiment
ABSTRACT The Universal Particle Detector Experiment (UPDE), which consists of parallel planes of two diode laser beams of different wavelengths and a large surface metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) impact detector, is proposed. It will be used to perform real-time monitoring of contamination particles and meteoroids impacting the spacecraft surface with high resolution of time, position, direction, and velocity. The UPDE will discriminate between contaminants and meteoroids, and will determine their velocity and size distribution around the spacecraft environment. With two different color diode lasers, the contaminant and meteroid composition will also be determined based on laboratory calibration with different materials. Secondary particles dislodged from the top aluminum surface of the MOS detector will also be measured to determine the kinetic energy losses during energetic meteoroid impacts. The velocity range of this instrument is 0.1 m/s to more than 14 km/s, while its size sensitivity is from 0.2 microns to millimeter-sized particles. The particulate measurements in space of the kind proposed will be the first simultaneous multipurpose particulate experiment that includes velocities from very slow to hypervelocities, sizes from submicrometer- to pellet-sized diameters, chemical analysis of the particulate composition, and measurements of the kinetic energy losses after energetic impacts of meteroids. The experiment will provide contamination particles and orbital debris data that are critically needed for our present understanding of the space environment. The data will also be used to validate contamination and orbital debris models for predicting optimal configuration of future space sensors and for understanding their effects on sensitive surfaces such as mirrors, lenses, paints, and thermal blankets.