Polecats - a plasma instrumentation technology demonstration for REXUS-14

A. Lee, R. Bedington, L. Comandar, A. Daurskikh, M. Hills, D. Hu, T. Nordheim, R. Lee

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


PoleCATS - the Polar test of the Conceptual And Tiny Spectrometer - is a technology demonstration in the lower ionosphere of a new concept in space plasma instrumentation. The experiment uses CATS (the Conceptual And Tiny Spectrometer), which is a novel highly miniaturised plasma analyser head, together with an unconventional detector for low energy electrons: a CCD (charged-coupled device). CATS offers the unique ability to study simultaneously multiple energies of electrons and ions using extremely compact electrostatic optics, allowing for very rapid sampling of plasma energy distributions. Specially processed CCD detectors offer a sensor that can potentially detect both electrons and ions simultaneously and without the high voltage and high vacuum requirements of the detectors conventionally used in low energy plasma instruments. PoleCATS used these components to produce an instrument capable of analysing the fluxes and energies of electrons above 75 km altitude. Instrumentation based on this combination of CATS and the CCD provides an attractive low-resource solution for a range of space plasma applications, and the technology developed for the PoleCATS project has the potential to drastically improve upon the current generation of space plasma instruments. The likely performance increases and the highly miniaturised design would allow them to be flown on very small-scale missions such as nano- and picosatellites. Here, we present the results and information gained from the flight in May 2013, including the performance of the analyser, sensor, electronics and mechanical design and lessons to be learned about the design of a future instrument based on our recorded data.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event21st ESA Symposium on European Rocket and Balloon Programmes and Related Research - Thun, Switzerland
Duration: 9 Jun 201313 Jun 2013


Conference21st ESA Symposium on European Rocket and Balloon Programmes and Related Research


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