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A rocket-borne mass analyzer for charged aerosol particles in the mesosphere

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4 Author(s)
Knappmiller, S. ; Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0392, USA ; Robertson, S. ; Sternovsky, Zoltan ; Friedrich, Martin

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An electrostatic mass spectrometer for nanometer-sized charged aerosol particles in the mesosphere has been developed and tested. The analyzer is mounted on the forward end of a rocket and has a slit opening for admitting a continuous sample of air that is exhausted through ports at the sides. Within the instrument housing are two sets of four collection plates that are biased with positive and negative voltages for the collection of negative and positive aerosol particles, respectively. Each collection plate spans about an order of magnitude in mass which corresponds to a factor of 2 in radius. The number density of the charge is calculated from the current collected by the plates. The mean free path for molecular collisions in the mesosphere is comparable to the size of the instrument opening; thus, the analyzer performance is modeled by a Monte Carlo computer code that finds the aerosol particles trajectories within the instrument including both the electrostatic force and the forces from collisions of the aerosol particles with air molecules. Mass sensitivity curves obtained using the computer models are near to those obtained in the laboratory using an ion source. The first two flights of the instrument returned data showing the charge number densities of both positive and negative aerosol particles in four mass ranges.

Published in:

Review of Scientific Instruments  (Volume:79 ,  Issue: 10 )

Date of Publication:

Oct 2008

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