Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) Electron Spectrometer (ELS) Post-Launch Operations

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Mullard Space Science Laboratory

Abstract

The Cassini spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn since July 2004. The Electron Spectrometer (ELS), part of the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer, is one of three complementary plasma sensors. It measures electrons in Saturn's environment and provides information on the solar wind interaction with the ringed planet. Saturn's magnetosphere is dominated by the planet's rapid rotation but the solar wind plays a role too; we are investigating the relative importance. In addition, Saturn's rings, icy moons and Titan's atmosphere all interact with the plasma in Saturn's environment and we are investigating their effects. The electron measurements are playing a key role in the determination of natural plasma boundaries; of processes in the different regions of the interaction, e.g. injection events, ring plasma environment, icy satellite wakes, and magnetospheric energy input to the Titan environment and of the effects of electric fields. In this application we request the resources needed to run the electron spectrometer for the mission until 2008 and for the extended mission which we anticipate will allow the operation of Cassini until 2010. The tasks include instrument health evaluation, in flight calibration, planning, command generation, ground system development and engineering model support measurements. This includes all the work necessary to provide the parameters needed for scientific use of the data.

Publications

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