Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2022-7
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2022-7
 
12 May 2022
12 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GI.

Laboratory Measurements of the Performances of the Sweeping Langmuir Probe Instrument Aboard the PICASSO CubeSat

Sylvain Ranvier1 and Jean-Pierre Lebreton2 Sylvain Ranvier and Jean-Pierre Lebreton
  • 1Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), 1180 Brussels, Belgium
  • 2LPC2E, CNRS/University Orleans/CNES, 45071 Orleans, France

Abstract. The Sweeping Langmuir Probe (SLP) is one of the instruments on board the triple unit CubeSat PICASSO, an ESA in-orbit demonstrator launched in September 2020, which is flying at about 540 km altitude. SLP comprises 4 small cylindrical probes mounted at the tip of the solar panels. It aims at performing in-situ measurements of the plasma parameters (electron density and temperature together with ion density) and of the spacecraft potential in the ionosphere. Before the launch, the instrument, accommodated on an electrically representative PICASSO mock-up, has been tested in a plasma chamber. It is shown that the traditional orbital-motion-limited collection theory used for cylindrical Langmuir probes cannot be applied directly for the interpretation of the measurements because of the limited dimensions of the probes with respect to the Debye length in the ionosphere. Nevertheless, this method can be adapted to take into account the short length of the probes. To reduce the data downlink while keeping the most important information in the current-voltage characteristics, SLP includes an on-board adaptive sweeping capability. This functionality has been validated both in the plasma chamber and in space and it is demonstrated that, with a reduced number of data points the electron retardation and electron saturation regions can be well resolved. Finally, the effect of the contamination of the probe surface, which can be a serious issue in Langmuir probe data analysis, has been investigated. If not accounted for properly, this effect could lead to substantial errors in the estimation of the electron temperature.

Sylvain Ranvier and Jean-Pierre Lebreton

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gi-2022-7', Laila Andersson, 27 May 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on gi-2022-7', Anonymous Referee #2, 19 Jul 2022

Sylvain Ranvier and Jean-Pierre Lebreton

Sylvain Ranvier and Jean-Pierre Lebreton

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Short summary
The Sweeping Langmuir Probe on board the PICASSO CubeSat was designed to measure the plasma parameters. Before launch, the instrument has been tested in a plasma chamber. It is shown that the traditional method to interpret the data cannot be applied directly for this type of probes, and an adaptation is proposed. It is reported how, with a reduced number of data points, the plasma parameters can still be retrieved. Finally, the effect of the contamination of the probe surface are investigated.