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Published June 1994 | Published
Journal Article Open

Inward electrostatic precipitation of interplanetary particles


An inward precipitator collects particles initially dispersed in a gas throughout either a cylindrical or spherical chamber onto a small central planchet. The instrument is effective for particle diameters greater than about 1 µm. One use is the collection of interplanetary dust particles which are stopped in a noble gas (xenon) by drag and ablation after perforating the wall of a thin-walled spacecraft-mounted chamber. First, the particles are positively charged for several seconds by the corona production of positive xenon ions from inward facing needles placed on the chamber wall. Then an electric field causes the particles to migrate toward the center of the instrument and onto the planchet. The collection time (of the order of hours for a 1 m radius spherical chamber) is greatly reduced by the use of optimally located screens which reapportion the electric field. Some of the electric field lines terminate on the wires of the screens so a fraction of the total number of particles in the chamber is lost. The operation of the instrument is demonstrated by experiments which show the migration of carbon soot particles with radius of approximately 1 µm in a 5-cm-diam cylindrical chamber with a single field enhancing screen toward a 3.2 mm central collection rod.

Additional Information

© 1994 American Institute of Physics. Received 29 March 1993; accepted 3 March 1994. This research was supported under NASA Grant Nos. NAG-1953 and NAGW-1941 and National Science Foundation Grant No. CBT8813006. Contribution No. 5077, Division of Geological and Planetary Science.

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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023