Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lobster-Eye imager detects soft X-ray emissions

29.07.2015

NASA-led group has designed a wide-field-of-view imager capable of detecting soft X-ray emissions that occur anywhere within the solar system whenever solar winds encounter neutral gas -- including the Earth, moon, Mars, Venus, and comets

Solar winds are known for powering dangerous space weather events near Earth, which, in turn, endangers space assets. So a large interdisciplinary group of researchers, led by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) set out to create a wide-field-of-view soft X-ray imager capable of detecting the soft X-ray emissions produced whenever the solar wind encounters neutral gas.


This is the integrated instrument prototype with the optics assembly at the front and the electronics box in the back.

Credit: NASA

This week in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, from AIP Publishing, the group describes developing and launching their imager, which centers on "Lobster-Eye optics," as well as its capabilities and future applications in space exploration.

The group's imager was inspired by simulations created about a decade ago by Tom Cravens and Ina Robertson at the University of Kansas, both of whom are now involved in this work, which demonstrated that the interaction between the solar wind and the residual atmosphere in Earth's magnetosphere could be imaged in soft X-rays.

By way of background, on the sun, wind plasma flows continuously from all latitudes and longitudes -- occupying the entire heliosphere and interacting with a neutral gas. This "solar wind" consists primarily of protons, but also contains a flux of high-charge-state heavy ions. When these ions interact with the gas, many undergo charge-exchange reactions and acquire an electron in an excited state, which causes the high-charge-state ions to emit soft X-ray photons.

It's precisely these sorts of soft X-ray emissions that the group's imager is designed to detect.

What are "Lobster-Eye Optics

Lobster-Eye optics refers to an optical element used to focus soft X-rays, developed by the University of Leicester in the U.K. and Photonis Corp. in France and inspired by the eyes of the eponymous epicurean crustacean.

The optical element "consists of an array of very small square glass pores 20 microns on a side curved like a section of a sphere, with a radius of 75 centimeters," explained Michael R. Collier, an astrophysicist working for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and lead author of the paper. "Our imager operates on the same principle as the lobster eye, which is how it got its name, by focusing soft X-ray photons onto a plane located at half the radius of the sphere."

What's the significance of a wide-field-of view imager in space? "It takes us one step closer toward global solar wind and magnetosphere imaging capabilities," Collier said. "And it also represents taking a theory, in this case all of the calculations and simulations of physical phenomena, and successfully applying it to a useful scientific capability."

To this end, globally imaging the solar wind's interaction with the Earth's magnetosphere will enable tracking the flow of energy and momentum into the atmosphere. "Because all of the energy that powers dangerous space weather events near Earth comes from solar wind, this capability allows us to better protect our space assets -- particularly geosynchronous spacecraft, such as those that carry cell phone signals," he added.

In terms of applications, the European Space Agency and Chinese Academy of Sciences are already making plans for a mission called the "Solar Wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer," a.k.a. SMILE, that will include a wide-field-of-view soft X-ray imager featuring Lobster-Eye optics. "The goal of this mission is to perform global imaging of the solar wind and magnetosphere interaction -- something that has yet to be achieved," said Collier.

What's next for the group? "These soft X-rays are observed anywhere in the solar system that the solar wind encounters neutral gas--including the Earth, Moon, Mars, Venus, and comets," Collier noted. "So, in the future, we'll explore the applicability of our technique within the context of missions to other planets."

The group's technique is also easily adapted to nanosatellites such as CubeSats -- which boast a form factor ranging from 1 to 10 kilograms and are described in canonical units of 10 x 10 x 10 cm -- and will "enable low-cost missions with a high science return," said Collier.

###

The article, "First Flight in Space of a Wide-Field-of-View Soft X-ray Imager Using Lobster-Eye Optics: Instrument Description and Initial Flight Results" is authored by Michael R. Collier, F. Scott Porter, David G. Sibeck, Jenny A. Carter, Meng P. Chiao, Dennis J. Chornay, Thomas E. Cravens, Massimilianao Galeazzi, John W. Keller, Dimitra Koutroumpa, Joseph Kujawski, Kip Kuntz, Andy M. Read, Ina P. Robertson, Steve Sembay, Steven L. Snowden, Nicholas Thomas, Youaraj Uprety, and Brian M. Walsh. It will appear in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments on July 28, 2015. After that date, it can be accessed at: http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/rsi/86/7/10.1063/1.4927259

Authors of this paper are affiliated with NASA, The University of Leicester, University of Kansas, University of Miami, CNRS/INSU, Siena College, The Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California, Berkeley

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

The journal Review of Scientific Instruments, which is produced by AIP Publishing, presents innovation in instrumentation and methods across disciplines. See: http://rsi.aip.org/

Media Contact

Jason Socrates Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
240-535-4954

 @jasonbardi

http://www.aip.org 

Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: EMISSIONS NASA Space X-ray X-ray photons ions magnetosphere optics photons solar wind

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Observations of nearby supernova and associated jet cocoon provide new insights on gamma-ray bursts
18.01.2019 | George Washington University

nachricht A new twist on a mesmerizing story
17.01.2019 | ETH Zurich Department of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ten-year anniversary of the Neumayer Station III

The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research

Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI

The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...

Im Focus: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Additive manufacturing reflects fundamental metallurgical principles to create materials

18.01.2019 | Materials Sciences

How molecules teeter in a laser field

18.01.2019 | Life Sciences

The cytoskeleton of neurons has been found to be involved in Alzheimer's disease

18.01.2019 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>