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Dustbuster: a compact impact-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer for in situ analysis of cosmic dust

Austin, Daniel E. and Ahrens, Thomas J. and Beauchamp, J. L. (2002) Dustbuster: a compact impact-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer for in situ analysis of cosmic dust. Review of Scientific Instruments, 73 (1). pp. 185-189. ISSN 0034-6748. doi:10.1063/1.1427762.

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We report on the design and testing of a compact impact-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer for analysis of cosmic dust, suitable for use on deep space missions. The instrument, Dustbuster, incorporates a large target area with a reflectron, simultaneously optimizing mass resolution, particle detection, and ion collection. Dust particles hit the 65-cm2 target plate and are partially ionized by the impact. The resulting ions, with broad energy and angular distributions, are accelerated through a modified reflectron, focusing ions of specific m/z in space and time to produce high-resolution mass spectra. The cylindrically symmetric instrument is 10 cm in diameter and 20 cm in length, considerably smaller than previous in situ dust analyzers, and can be easily scaled as needed for specific mission requirements. Laser desorption ionization of metal and mineral samples embedded in the impact plate simulated particle impacts for evaluations of instrument performance. Mass resolution in these experiments ranged from 60–180, permitting resolution of isotopes. The mass spectrometer can be combined with other instrument components to determine dust particle trajectories and sizes.

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Beauchamp, J. L.0000-0001-8839-4822
Additional Information:© 2002 American Institute of Physics. (Received 19 June 2001; accepted 11 October 2001) The authors thank Ingrid Mann, Dmitri Kossakovski, Ron Grimm, and Sang-Won Lee for their input and assistance. This research was funded by NASA’s Planetary Instrument Definition and Development Program (PIDDP). Contribution No. 8806, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125.
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Subject Keywords:cosmic dust; time of flight mass spectrometers; astronomical instruments
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Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences8806
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ID Code:2077
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Deposited On:06 Mar 2006
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 19:45

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