Researchers have developed a method to study ions around comets
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comet has a plasma environment, which contains a large number of low-energy ions. For researchers, it is necessary to understand the characteristics of these low-energy ions in order to understand the physical processes around comets
because low-energy ions are difficult to measure, Sofia Bergman designed a new method in her paper to analyze the measurement results of these ions around comet 67p / churyumov gerasimenko
“the interaction between spacecraft and its environment leads to the accumulation of surface charges on spacecraft. This is problematic for the measurement of low-energy ions, because ions are affected by spacecraft before they are detected, which changes their energy and travel direction,” Sofia berrgman explained, “We want to know the original properties of ions. Before they are affected by spacecraft, we can do this now by using the method developed in my paper.”
in the paper, the researchers studied the ion mass spectrometer ICA (ion composition analyzer) from the Swedish Institute of space physics (IRF) on Rosetta The data have been analyzed. It is reported that ICA can measure the energy and travel direction of ions with very low energy, but the low-energy data from ICA has been difficult to explain before due to the influence of spacecraft potential on the measurement.
Sofia Bergman said: “We are now able to determine the flow direction of low-energy ions observed by ICA on comet 67p / churyumov gerasimenko for the first time. The results are surprising. We see a large number of ions flowing inward to the comet nucleus rather than outward as we expected.”
when we want to understand how the solar wind interacts with different celestial bodies in the solar system, the study of comets becomes very interesting. The elliptical orbit of comets has greatly changed the environment around them. With the change of the distance between comets and the sun, we can observe how the magnetosphere around comets is formed. Low energy ions are important for this interaction, and And not just in comets.
“the method I developed in this paper can also be used to study low-energy ions around other celestial bodies in the solar system,” Sofia Bergman said. “Due to the difficulty of interpreting the measurement results, the analysis of such ions has been very limited in the past.”