Low-energy neutral-atom imaging

David J. McComas, Herbert O. Funsten, J. T. Gosling, Kurt R. Moore, Michelle F. Thomsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


Energetic neutral atom (ENA) and low energy neutral atom (LENA) imaging of space plasmas are emerging new technologies which promise to revolutionize the way we view and understand large scale space plasma phenomena and dynamics. ENAs and LENAs are produced in the magnetosphere by charge exchange between energetic and plasma ions and cold geocoronal neutrals. While imaging techniques have been previously developed for observing ENAs with energies above several tens of keV, most of the ions found in the terrestrial magnetosphere have lower energies. We recently suggested that LENAs could be imaged by first converting the neutrals to ions and then electrostatically analyzing them to reject the UV background. In this paper we extend this work to examine in detail the sensor elements needed to make an LENA imager. These elements are (1) a biased collimator to remove the ambient plasma ions and electrons and set the azimuthal field-of-view; (2) a charge modifier to convert a portion of the incident LENAs to ions; (3) an electrostatic analyzer to reject UV light and set the energy passband; and (4) a coincidence position detector to measure converted LENAs while rejecting noise and penetrating radiation; all are flight proven technologies. We also examine the issue of LENA imager sensitivity and describe ways of optimizing sensitivity in the various sensor components. Finally, we demonstrate how these general considerations are implemented by describing one relatively straightforward design based on a hemispherical electrostatic analyzer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
PublisherPubl by Int Soc for Optical Engineering
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)0819409170
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes
EventInstrumentation for Magnetospheric Imagery - San Diego, CA, USA
Duration: Jul 19 1992Jul 19 1992

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceInstrumentation for Magnetospheric Imagery
CitySan Diego, CA, USA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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