Heliophysics Spacecraft Instrumentation
This faculty research team presents a chance to join an exciting research group that has won competitive NASA selections to design, build, and test particle instruments for a variety of space-based missions. Sending these detectors out into interplanetary space to measure plasma velocity, density, and temperature of the solar wind increases our understanding of the Sun’s corona and the solar wind. One such mission launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on board a Delta IV-Heavy rocket on August 12, 2018; the Parker Solar Probe is now in its third orbit around the Sun, getting closer and moving faster than any man-made object has before. As part of a suite of instruments, the Solar Probe Cup (SPC) built by Professor Kasper’s team of scientists and engineers has a front row seat on the spacecraft.
Alongside analysis of data from Parker Solar Probe and other active missions, prototype development continues in preparation for future proposal opportunities. This year’s project will be heavily focused on testing a new Faraday cup design developed over the last year. Students will work on engineering analysis, laboratory test design, project planning and related activities that will ultimately lead to test and performance evaluation of the instrument in a space-like environment. In addition, students will be introduced to physics and data analysis principles that underpin space plasma laboratory work.
Team members may have other opportunities to enhance their hands-on experience. For example, two students from the 2015-16 team were selected for co-ops at JPL most likely as a result of the work done as a team member. The Space Physics Research Lab has an extensive history of successful instrument builds that have flown or currently in orbit about some planetary body in the solar system such as Cassini, the mission to Saturn, SAM, an instrument onboard the Mars rover Curiosity and much more.
Meeting time and location
Wednesdays 11am-12pm, CSRB 1234 or CSRB CAEN Lab
Each subteam has a team leader that reports to and meets with the faculty PI. The teams are flexibly structured to enhance creativity and opportunity for student growth.