Solar System Physics and Space Technology


The Solar System Physics and Space Technology program provides a wide range of work opportunities for all levels of expertise starting from small projects for school students to research tasks for Post Doctoral scientists. The respective space mission descriptions can be found at Launched Satellite Projects and SSPT Projects home.

This list currently contains 52 projects:

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M.Sc Thesis / Project Work

The program provides opportunities to make Master of Science degree projects (30-45 ECTS, approximately 6 months). Some Master Thesis projects can be performed, in part, as Summer work projects (duration up to 6 weeks). The program also provides opportunities to do a number of projects related to developments in the field of space science and technology.

Empirical models of the Mars and Venus solar wind interaction regions

The goal of this project is to develop an empirical (based on data) model of the Mars and Venus interactions with the solar wind. Recent powerful computer simulations enable us modeling of the interaction on the global scale, however, such powerful simulations require substential CPU power and normally take a lot of computation time. Therefore, a simple emperical model isan alternative. For example, Tsyganenko model (an empirical model of the Earth magnetosphere) is widely used for investigation of the Earth ionosphere and magnetosphere instead of self-consistent MHD models or hybrid models. In this project, we intend to develop the Mars and Venus interaction models using ion and electron data obtained by Mars Express (more than 9000 orbits) and Venus Express data (more than 1000 orbits). The model would be a de facto standard for the future analysis of the Mars and Venus solar wind interactions.

Contact person: Dr. Yoshifumi Futaana (yoshifumi.futaana@irf.se, +46 980 79025)



PHOBOS-2 plasma data archiving

In 1989, PHOBOS-2 was inserted into the Martian orbit, and innovative dataset was provided by IRF-developed ASPERA instrument for investigating the plasma environment of Mars. A very remarkable result was achieved that a significant amount of the oxygen ions are outflowing from Martian ionosphere. However, the old-period data analysis system is now not available due to the incompatibility of the computer system, and thus the recovery of the ASPERA data binary file is urgently needed to re-evaluate the valuable scientific data obtained 20 years ago. The mission of this project is to convert a binary-formatted data to a human readable ascii-format.

Contact person: Dr. Yoshifumi Futaana (yoshifumi.futaana@irf.se, +46 980 79025)



Data processing system for ASPERA-3 and ASPERA-4

ASPERA-3 and ASPERA-4 are packages of plasma sensors on board Mars Express and Venus Express. ASPERA-3 is operational in the Martian orbit since 2003, and ASPERA-4 is in the Venus orbit since 2006. A large amount of data near the Mars and Venus environment has been obtained and used for new scientific investigations. The softwares to process the raw data producing data in a format suitable for scientific investigation has been developed at the same time as the scientific data analysis has taken place. Small problems and bugs in the raw data processing has been fixed with small patches applied to the processed data, so as not to interrupt the raw data processing work flow. It is now time to improve the raw data processing based on what we have learned during the years of data analysis, and to re-process the raw data base. The database should be improved so that the scientific data is available in at least both matlab and idl format. Currently the main data base is available in matlab format, with routines to convert part of the data into idl format. This project aims to implement and to debug the processing software, and then to complete the re-construction of the database. The validation of the new database will also be a task. Knowledges of Matlab OR IDL are needed. Experience of using Linux is also expected. One can learn from this project how the space-borne instrument data are processed, archived and used for scientific investigations.

Contact person: Dr. Yoshifumi Futaana (yoshifumi.futaana@irf.se, +46 980 79025)
Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Hans Nilsson (hans.nilsson@irf.se, +46 980 79127)



Design of High Voltage Power Supply (HVPS)

HVPS are used in IRF-K ion and neutral gas mass spectrometer sto provide bias voltages to CEMs (Channel Electron Multiplier) or MCPs (Micro Channel Plate) or to provide deflection voltages which can either be static or dynamic with millisecond time constants. The HVPS need to be extremely reliable, with small size and mass, low electromagnetic emissions, high efficiency, wide operating temperature range and ability to survive the cosmic radiation environment. They need to have multiple output voltages within the range +-5 kV. The task will consist of studying or implementing a solution which fulfils the requirements but only for the two mentioned voltages. It will also include selection of radiation tolerant electronic components and in particular the switching regulator and if necessary, to conduct radiation tests on COTS (Commercial Of The Shelf) components.

Contact person: Mr. Herman Andersson (herman.andersson@irf.se, +46 980 79034)



Design of multichannel programmable charge amplifier as an ASIC

Multichannel charge amplifiers are used in IRF-K ion and neutral gas mass spectrometers to convert charge pulses from CEMs (Channel Electron Multiplier) or MCPs (Micro Channel Plate) to voltage pulses. These pulses are either used to determine timing in TOF (Time Of Flight) mass spectrometers with nanosecond accuracy or to measure charge collected on charge collection anodes either with or without accurate charge determination. Constraints, such as low mass and power consumption, high reliability and multiple channels make an ASIC to be the preferred solution. In order to make it possible to be used in different charge measurement applications, several parameters need to be programmable on-chip. Radiation tolerant design is also required. CFDs (Constant Fraction Discriminator) are needed to avoid pulse height induced timing inaccuracies. The task will consist of evaluation of semiconductor processes or methods which can fulfil the requirements, design, layout and simulation, prototype manufacturing as a MPW (Multi Project Wafer), encapsulation and test.

Contact person: Mr. Herman Andersson (herman.andersson@irf.se, +46 980 79034)



Global structure of the induced magnetospheres

A parallel, adaptive grid, hybrid solver is available. This enables higher resolution simulations of the Mars-solar wind interaction than has ever been done before. Also available is a coupled direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) model of Mars's exosphere. The goal of this project is to develop a world-leading hybrid model of the Mars-solar wind interaction and compare with Mars Express observations in terms of global structure (boundary locations), atmospheric escape, particle penetration through the induced Magnetosphere boundary (IMB), and ionosphere-magnetosphere coupling. Venus-solar wind interaction modeling may also be performed, if the time allows. Including magnetic anomalies to the Martian model is a possible additional task.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Mats Holmström (mats.holmstrom@irf.se, +46 980 79186)



Modeling the solar wind interaction with Solar System objects

A parallel, adaptive grid, hybrid solver has been developed based on a public available code, FLASH. This enables higher resolution simulations of the interaction between the solar wind and solar system objects than has ever been done before. The Moon-solar wind interaction has been modeled using this code. The primary goal of this project would be to extend the code to new solar system objects, e.g., Callisto, Mars, Venus, Mercury. The aim is to eventually make the code public available as a reference hybrid solver for planetary objects. Included in the project is comparison with in-situ observations by our particle sensors at these planets. Depending on the interests of the applicant the share of code development/simulations and comparison with observations can be adjusted.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Mats Holmström (mats.holmstrom@irf.se, +46 980 79186)



Numerical simulations of planetary plasma environments

Numerical algorithms and software for simulations of planetary plasma environments support the instruments developed at IRF. Computer simulations predict particle fluxes before an instrument is built, providing instrument design constraints. Simulations are also used to extract as much information as possible from measured data once the instrument is deployed. The plasma simulations are computationally demanding, requiring the development of efficient algorithms and the use of parallel computers. To simplify reuse of software, object oriented programming is used. An ongoing project is the simulation of energetic neutral atom (ENA) images, and parameter extraction from such images, for the ASPERA-3 instrument on ESA's Mars Express mission. A new project is to model the plasma environment of Mercury to generate simulated ENA images to support an ENA imager onboard ESA's Bepi Columbo mission to Mercury.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Mats Holmström (mats.holmstrom@irf.se, +46 980 79186)



Induced magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling: Martian aurora

Martian aurora was discovered by an UV spectrometer on-board Mars Express. Some signatures in particles data were associated with possible auroral phenomena. The goal of the study is to investigate the physics of the Martian aurora generation using particle (ions and electron) data from the ASPERA-3 experiment.

Contact person: Prof. Stas Barabash (stas.barabash@irf.se, +46 980 79122)



Calibration system upgrade

IRF's calibration system is used to characterize, verify and finally calibrate ion mass spectrometers and energetic neutral particle instruments for application in space. A number of upgrades to the system are pending requiring installation and verification of new hardware into the system. The task consists in integrating new components such as a new ion beam profiler, energetic neutral atom sources, or additional moving mounting tables into the vacuum system. Software to control the new elements needs to be developed and integrated with the existing control software running on low level micro controllers or on higher level control computers. The task combines vacuum technologies, electronics, physics of ion sources, mechanical aspects and software development. Skills for working with hardware as well as ability to program are a must for this task.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Review of particle surface interaction

Particle instruments built at IRF often use particle-surface interaction as part of the detection principle. For this task, a review of particle-surface interaction mechanisms with focus on "technical" surfaces as used in real instruments is to be done. The review should cover ion and neutral atom to surface interaction processes relevant for the energy range of our instruments (from a few eV to 10s of keV) and e.g. include charge exchange reaction mechanisms, secondary electron yields, recoil processes and dependences on projectile-surface combinations. An overview of relevant models describing these interactions should be collected, supported by published measured properties of typical surfaces. The work consists of a thorough literature search and classification and writing of a summary report.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



High energy particle background: Data analysis and future instrumentation

For any space-borne sensors, background noises cannot be avoidable. In particular, when high radiation event (like solar energetic particle events) happened, strong background noises due to penetrating radiations are expected. Indeed such background has been detected by Mars Express and Venus Express ASPERA instruments.

In this project, we expect analysis of the time series of high energy background data to investigate plasma environments of upper atmospheres of Mars and Venus. The analysis also includes deriving geometric factors of the ASPERA instruments for high energy particles. The derivation will be done by (but not limited to) two ways: first by comparing with dedicated high energy particle sensors in other spacecraft, and second by using theoretical model of penetrating particles applied to ASPERA instruments.

The outcome of this project will increase our knowledge on Mars/Venus plasma environment, increase our expertise of scientific analysis of high background data, and feed back to the future mission instrumentation for high radiation environment.



Contact person: Dr. Yoshifumi Futaana (yoshifumi.futaana@irf.se, +46 980 79025)
Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Radiation exposure simulations for instruments to be flown to Jupiter

The Plasma Environment Package (PEP) is an instrument package proposed to be flown on ESA's Laplace mission to Jupiter. The severe radiation environment around Jupiter combined with limitations in available mass for shielding requires a careful design of the instrument layout in order to maximize protection for sensitive elements like electronics or detectors from the radiation. The tasks consists in supporting the implementation of detailed radiation simulations together with the responsible engineer. Simulations are done using the GEANT4 radiation simulation package. Knowledge of Linux and programming languages as well as CAD systems are advantageous for this task. You can contact either Stefan Karlsson (stefan.karlsson@irf.se, +46 980 79029) or Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198).

Contact person: Stefan Karlsson (stefan.karlsson@irf.se, +46 980 79029)
Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Data analyses project

step-1: Identification of "event (*)" from QL from at least 3 year data.
(*) events are one of (a) He++ event in foreshock (upstream of solar wind)in VEX or Cluster, and (b) multiple-acceleration event at bow shock in MEX or Cluster.
step-2: For identified event list, make script or program for mass production of plot in specified format, as well as calculate the flux ration (e.g. He++/H+ or accelerated/non-accelerated).

Contact person: Dr. Masatoshi Yamauchi (M.Yamauchi@irf.se, +46 980 79120)



Survey of electrical insulating materials

The task is to identify materials for space applications.

Main properties which must be met:
- Outgassing TML <= 1%, CVCM <= 0.1%
- Bulk resistivity 1e6 < R < 1e12 Ohm*m
- Good machinability

Other properties that need to be considered and reported:
- Mechanical Properties
- Other electrical properties
- Thermal properties
- Radiation properties

Contact person: Mr. Magnus Oja (magnus.oja@irf.se, +46 980 79179)



Ongoing and Past Projects



Meteoroids

Meteoroids belong to the smallest objects in the solar system. They have once again become interesting due to the increased Leonid shower activity that has also been intensively studied due to the threat meteoroids can have on the spacecraft. The EISCAT radar is a unique instrument for studying these objects, because it can do tristatic and dual-frequency observations. Collaborative studies are done with other large aperture radars in the world such as the Arecibo facility. Interest is focused on the dust distribution in the solar system and from interstellar space, which has been observed for example with the Ulysses spacecraft. Arecibo close to the equatorial latitudes and EISCAT at the polar latitudes make a very interesting pair of global ground based instruments for monitoring these dust distributions. Using the radars for such measurements leads to a profound understanding of the instrument as well as the signal processing.

Contact person: Prof. Asta Pellinen-Wannberg (asta.pellinen-wannberg@irf.se, +46 980 79118)



Simulation of ENA Albedo at Mars and Venus

The goal of this project is to understand macro- and micro-physics of generation of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) undergoing at the dayside of Mars and Venus. Since Mars and Venus have no intrinsic magnetic field, solar wind particles can directly interact with tenuous atmosphere. One important interaction is so-called ENA Albedo. The solar wind ENAs, which is created above the exobase, can penetrate into the exosphere, and they experience collisions with neutral particles around the exobase. After the collision, a part of them is scattered back. The neutral particle detector, NPD, on board Mars Express has confirmed the existence of the ENA Albedo, and they found that the observed flux is several times larger than the predicted model. This project tries to make theoretical model of collisions between the solar wind particles and exospheric particles in order to estimate scattered particle flux. This estimation is anticipated to explain the overproduction of ENA flux.

Contact person: Dr. Yoshifumi Futaana (yoshifumi.futaana@irf.se, +46 980 79025)



Lunar limb ENA generation: a feasibility study of ENA occultation at Moon

The project aims to the calculate the ENA flux in the vicinity of the lunar limb. While the Moon is said to have no dense atmosphere, it actually has tenuous exosphere. A part of solar wind particles, which has passed close to the limb exosphere, experiences charge exchange mechanism to be neutral atoms. The ENA flux reflects the neutral density of the lunar exosphere along the line of sight (LOS), and therefore by using LOS dependence of the ENA flux, the exosphere can be reconstructed. This work tries to estimate the ENA flux around the lunar limb (a forward problem) for the future lunar ENA mission. In addition, the work is anticipated to develop an algorithm to reconstruct the exosphere density of Moon from ENA fluxes (an inverse problem).

Contact person: Dr. Yoshifumi Futaana (yoshifumi.futaana@irf.se, +46 980 79025)



Solar wind parameter calculation by SWIM on board Chandrayaan-1

The goal of this project is to complete the calculation of solar wind parameters from the ion data recorded by the newly designed SWIM sensor on board Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. The solar wind parameters, such as the velocity, the density, and the temperature, are keys to understand the plasma environment in the vicinity of planets. Even though theories of calculation of the parameters have been established, they are not straightforward in practice to derive them. In particular, SWIM is a newly designed sensor for solar wind monitoring, one should also evaluate the sensor performance for deriving the parameters. We anticipate you to develop the software for calculating the solar wind parameters, and to make a text-base database of them covering the whole mission period (January to July 2009). You can also compare your results with other solar wind monitoring spacecraft close to the Earth (e.g. WIND or ACE).

Contact person: Dr. Yoshifumi Futaana (yoshifumi.futaana@irf.se, +46 980 79025)



Analysis of high energy particle proxy for the Inner Solar System space weather study

This project analyses the high energy particle flux (energies more than MeV) using the Mars and Venus Express data to understand the high energy particle environment in the inner Solar System. Such the high energy particles are associated with shock waves in the interplanetary space as results of the solar flare or the corotational interaction region (CIR). Solar flares occur at the surface of the Sun, and therefore the associated shock waves are produced in the vicinity of the Sun. On the other hand, CIR-associated shocks develop slower, and it is believed that the shock structure is not enough steep in the Earth orbit, but is formed until the Martian orbit. In this study, we aim to understand the high energy particle flux signature dependence on the distance from the Sun, i.e. at Venus (0.7AU), Earth (1.0AU), and Mars (1.5AU) orbit.

Contact person: Dr. Yoshifumi Futaana (yoshifumi.futaana@irf.se, +46 980 79025)



Cometary environment

IRF Kiruna has an ion composition analyzer (named ICA) onboard the Rosetta spacecraft. Rosetta is on its way to encounter comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko in year 2014. The aim of this project is to sample a model cometary environment with a virtual ICA instrument. In particular we will investigate how the limited telemetry available will affect our ability to get useful measurements from the instrument. In order to reduce telemetry the ICA instrument has a number of data reduction modes. The effects of these different modes should be investigated. A plan on how to best operate the instrument when in orbit around the comet should be prepared. Comparison of results at different distances from the sun should be made. An additional task is to evaluate the instruments ability to detect the first significant ion outflow from the comet nucleus as the comet approaches the sun. The task requires some mathematical and programming skill.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Hans Nilsson (hans.nilsson@irf.se, +46 980 79127)



Ion acceleration at Mars and Venus

Scientists at IRF Kiruna are working with planetary ion outflow at three planets: Venus, Earth and Mars. For the outflow at Earth the most detailed data is available and accordingly more details are known. Several different heating and acceleration mechanisms are known, such as field-aligned acceleration due to quasi-static electric fields, reconnection associated jets, centrifugal acceleration, perpendicular heating due to wave particle interaction and subsequent outflow due to the mirror force. The Earth's magnetic field plays an important role in all these acceleration and heating mechanisms. Therefore studies of the acceleration mechanisms at non-magnetized planets such as Mars and Venus are a very important complement to the studies performed in the Earth's magnetosphere. At non-magnetized planets we expect the solar wind magnetic field to play an important role. Ion beams similar to those seen flowing along the field-lines of the Earth's magnetosphere are seen around Mars and Venus. These may be pick-up ions, having acquired the drift velocity of the solar wind when they were ionized by solar EUV or impact ionization. The solar wind electric field may not be completely shielded from the magnetic field-free part of the induced magnetosphere, which provides another acceleration mechanism. Instabilities at the interface between the draped solar wind magnetic field lines and the planetary ionosphere is another source of ion escape and ion energization. At Mars there seems to be some field-aligned acceleration along the magnetic field-lines of the crustal magnetic anomalies of Mars. Whereas a systematic study of the heavy ion temperature around Venus and Mars is yet to be undertaken, it seems that the ion beams are usually rather cold. Investigating this more carefully is also needed in order to understand the heating and acceleration mechanisms which are most important for the non-magnetized Earth-like planets. The study will be based on data from the Ion Mass Analyzer (IMA) on board Mars and Venus Express, complemented with data from the electron spectrometer ELS. It is foreseen that the study will be mainly experimental, but a more theoretical approach may also be used by a suitable applicant. Skill in basic programming for data analysis is necessary. For Venus Express magnetometer data is also available.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Hans Nilsson (hans.nilsson@irf.se, +46 980 79127)



Comparative induced magnetospheres at non-magnetized planets (Mars and Venus).

The project aims at comparing the induced magnetospheres at Mars and Venus. Mars and Venus have both differences and similarities. Neither of them have a significant dipole magnetic field. Both have a significant atmosphere (from a space physics point of view). That of Venus is much denser, and the gravity of the planet is much higher. The upper atmosphere (exosphere) of Mars is more extended due to the lower gravity. The bow shock, magnetosheath and induced magnetosphere of Mars are also much smaller on a characteristic ion gyro radii scale. It is therefore interesting to compare these two planetary space environments. This can be followed up with a comparison of similar responses and acceleration mechanisms detected in the planetary space environment of Earth. Some suitable topics are:
- Response to solar wind transients and other solar transients
- Planetary origin ion acceleration mechanisms
- Properties of the flow at the interface between the planetary ion dominated region and the solar wind origin plasma
The main aim of the project is to generalize our understanding of currently observed outflow processes to a level where we can confidently extrapolate the results to the solar and atmospheric conditions of the past. That way we can refine our estimates of the total loss of planetary atmospheres on geological time scales.

The study will be based on data from the Ion Mass Analyzer (IMA) on board Mars and Venus Express, complemented with data from the electron spectrometer ELS. It is foreseen that the study will be mainly experimental, but a more theoretical approach may also be used by a suitable applicant. See also the proposed PhD student project on ion acceleration mechanisms at Mars and Venus on this project page.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Hans Nilsson (hans.nilsson@irf.se, +46 980 79127)



Preparing for the comet: processing ion data from Rosetta

IRF Kiruna has an ion composition analyzer (named ICA) onboard the Rosetta spacecraft. Rosetta is on its way to encounter comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko in year 2014. The ion instrument is almost identical to our instrument on Mars Express, but due to severe telemetry constraints it will be used mostly in lower resolution modes. Therefore the data processing must be different as compared to what has been used for the Mars Express ion spectrometer data. The effects of data binning and the lower resolution must be taken into account in the noise reduction and solar wind contamination removal procedures. Calibration procedures tuned to the Rosetta instrument must be implemented and applied to the data. In the end, the developed software will be used to produce Planetary Data Systems archive data to be delivered to ESA. As part of the project, all existing data, from Earth fly-byes, the Mars fly-by and the solar wind will be re-processed and calibration procedures applied. The solar wind data will be compared to typical solar wind fluxes, conjugate ACE, Mars Express and other simultaneous data as available. A possible additional task is to evaluate the instruments ability to detect the first significant ion outflow from the comet nucleus as the comet approaches the sun. The task requires some mathematical and programming skill.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Hans Nilsson (hans.nilsson@irf.se, +46 980 79127)



Feasibility study of implementation of TDC's (Time-to-Digital-Converter) into FPGAs (Fiel Programmable Gate Array)

TDCs are used in IRF-K ion and neutral gas mass spectrometers to measure the flight time of charged particles. Their flight time is used to determine their mass. Flight times are in the order of tens of nanoseconds and need to be determined with fraction of ns accuracy. A TDC convert a flight time to a digital value and such converters are available as COTS or custom designed ICs and can likely also be implemented in FPGAs. Due to requirements for radiation tolerance the two first are extremely difficult to find on the market. Radiation tolerant FPGAs can however be bought as COTS and IRF already use such. A TDC implemented into an FPGA will therefore be a big advantage. The task will consist of studying the feasibility of FPGA implementation, identify possible difficulties, make a design by using e g VHDL, program it into a preselected type of FPGA and to evaluate the functionality as programmed.

Contact person: Mr. Herman Andersson (herman.andersson@irf.se, +46 980 79034)



Design of fast charge amplifier as discrete or hybrid implementation

Fast charge amplifiers are used in IRF-K ion and neutral gas mass spectrometers to convert charge pulses from CEMs (Channel Electron Multiplier) or MCPs (Micro Channel Plate) to voltage pulses. These pulses are either used to determine timing in TOF (Time Of Flight) mass spectrometers with nanosecond accuracy or to measure charge collected on charge collection anodes either with or without accurate charge determination. Low mass and power consumption, high reliability and tolerance to cosmic radiation are required. To avoid pulse height induced timing inaccuracies, the amplifier sometimes need to have a CFDs (Constant Fraction Discriminator) built-in. The task will consist of selection of radiation tolerant electronic components, design and simulation, layout, prototype manufacturing, encapsulation (if hybrid) and test.

Contact person: Mr. Herman Andersson (herman.andersson@irf.se, +46 980 79034)



Design of fast gate and electronics for charged particles

Fast electronic gating of charged particles is foreseen to be introduced into IRF-K ion and neutral gas mass spectrometers. The system consists of electrodes with an electric field between, which deflect particles away from their nominal trajectory by nanosecond fast switching of voltages in the 200 to 1500 V range. The gating system needs to be extremely reliable, with small size and mass, high efficiency, wide operating temperature range and ability to survive the cosmic radiation environment. The task will be to study the most efficient implementation of the E-field electrodes, design electronic gating electronics, build a prototype and test.

Contact person: Mr. Herman Andersson (herman.andersson@irf.se, +46 980 79034)



Evaluation of Scanner resources

Since 80's IRF-Kiruna develops mechanical Scanners for applications in space instruments. The first generation was flown on the Phobos mission and the second on Mars and Venus Express. The later were developed during the 90's and we are about to start development of the third generation. The task will be to perform evaluation of the need for resources (mass, volume, power) for different types of scanner motors (DC, BLDC, stepping, piezo ...) with their driver systems. Included is also the evaluation of different driving principles for a scanning platform such as worm gearbox or belt drive. The project concerns mostly technical reviews and analytical analysis of the existing systems and it can be performed remotely. In case the project becomes a Master Thesis project, design and prototyping are foreseen.

Contact person: Mr. Herman Andersson (herman.andersson@irf.se, +46 980 79034)



Evaluation of absolute angular encoder for Scanner

Since 80's IRF-Kiruna develops mechanical Scanners for applications in space instruments. The first generation was flown on the Phobos mission and the second on Mars and Venus Express. They need a system to determine their angular position and the ones used in the earlier designs made use of incremental encoding. The encoding system needs to be extremely reliable, with small size and mass, wide operating temperature range and ability to survive the cosmic radiation environment. The task will be to evaluate a system based on absolute encoding with <1 deg resolution and for a rotating platform where no central shaft is available. In case the project becomes a Master Thesis project, a design and even prototyping shall be performed

Contact person: Mr. Herman Andersson (herman.andersson@irf.se, +46 980 79034)



Market study of CPU cores for implementation in space qualified FPGAs

CPUs and FPGAs are used in IRF-K ion and neutral gas mass spectrometers for hardware control and for computational tasks. Both free-of-charge and commercially available CPU cores are available which can be implemented into FPGAs. The task will be to study the availability of such cores, make a survey of radiation tolerant FPGAs and the possibility of implementing the cores into such FPGAs.

Contact person: Mr. Herman Andersson (herman.andersson@irf.se, +46 980 79034)



Modeling of the stellar wind interactions with exoplanets

Recently our group observed, for the first time ever, energetic neutral atom (ENA) production outside the solar system, at an extra solar planet. These findings appeared in the journal Nature, and opens up a completely new field of study. The ENA production at planets around other stars, and what we can learn about the planetary environments and stellar winds through such studies. The first simulations of the interaction between stellar winds and extrasolar planets used a simplified particle model. This project would develop and use a more advanced model, based on existing software, to answer these new scientific questions.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Mats Holmström (mats.holmstrom@irf.se, +46 980 79186)



Analysis of data from the Neutral Particle Imager (NPI) at Mars and Venus

The NPI sensor provides directional measurements of energetic neutral atom (ENA) fluxes in the energy range 100 eV to a few keV (no mass/energy resolution). The NPIs on Mars Express and Venus Express collects unique data since orbit insertion (in 2003 and 2006, respectively). It is the first sensor of this type at Mars and Venus. Any topics within the frame of the NPI capabilities can be addressed in this project, e.g., solar wind ENA fluxes and exospheric studies. All studies can compare the Mars and Venus environments.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Mats Holmström (mats.holmstrom@irf.se, +46 980 79186)



NPI data analysis: Overview and statistics

The NPI sensors collects unique energetic neutral atom (ENA) data at Mars and Venus since orbit insertion in 2003 and 2006, respectively. The aim of this project would be to make an overview of the collected data in form of averages, time series and images in different coordinate systems. This could discover new features of the interaction between the solar wind and Venus and Mars.

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Mats Holmström (mats.holmstrom@irf.se, +46 980 79186)



Mars and Venus express data analysis

The ESA Mars and Venus express mission carry advanced plasma packages ASPERA-3 and -4 measuring ions (with mass resolution, 10 eV - 36 keV, electrons (1 eV - 15 keV) and energetic neutral atoms (100 eV - 10 keV). Venus express also carried a magnetometer. Mars express was operational for around 4 years and Venus Express for 1.5 years. A large data set is available for analysis. This project will address different tasks from the list below

Ion outflow though the induced magnetospheres
Mars Express established the outflow rate from Mars averaged over a two-year period for the current conditions for solar minimum and Phobos-2 for solar maximum. The goal of the study is using Mars Express data and reexamining the Phobos-2 data to establish the dependence of the escape rate on the solar wind and solar conditions as well as determine the escape rate for Venus using current Venus Express measurements.



Contact person: Prof. Stas Barabash (stas.barabash@irf.se, +46 980 79122)



Studies of the solar wind – Moon interaction. SARA / Chandrayan-1 data analysis

The SARA (Sub–keV Atom reflecting Analyzer) will fly onboard the first India’s Moon mission Chandrayaan–1 to be launched in 2008. SARA comprises two units. CENA (Chandrayaan–1 Energetic Neutrals Analyzer) and SWIM (Solar Wind Monitor). CENA measures fluxes of energetic neutrals in the energy range 10 eV – 3.3 keV with mass resolution and SWIM ion fluxes in the energy range 10 eV – 15 keV. ENAs (Energetic Neutral Atoms) at the Moon are produced as a result of the solar wind particle impact onto the surface via sputtering and backscattering. The main objective of the experiment (1) ENA imaging of the Moon’s elemental surface composition including imaging of permanently shadowed areas, (2) ENA Imaging of the surface magnetic anomalies geometry (3) studies of space weathering, (4) studies of the sputtered sources of the exospheric gases (4) comparative studies at Moon and Mercury. Any aspects of the solar wind – Moon interaction within the frame of the SARA experiment can be addressed in this project.

Contact person: Prof. Stas Barabash (stas.barabash@irf.se, +46 980 79122)



Development of new instrumentation for ENA diagnostics for planetary missions

ENA (Energetic Neutral Atom) imaging is a new technique for studies space plasmas, which is now actively being developed. IRF is a leading group in this area in Europe and has built a number of ENA instruments for magnetospheric and planetary missions (PIPPI / Astrid-1, ASPERA-C / Mars-94, DINA / Munin, ASPERA-3 / Mars Express (under development)). The project is to develop ENA instruments for the future Venus and / or Mercury missions which would perform ENA measurements in the range 10 eV - 10 keV (Low Energy Neutral Atoms and Medium Energy Neutral Atoms). The technique to be utilized is based on the interaction of ENAs with the specifically prepared surfaces that result in ENA ionization and reflection. The project would also include studies of the feasibility of using the nanotip ionizers for ENA ionization in the ultra-low energy range, 10 - 30 eV.

Contact person: Prof. Stas Barabash (stas.barabash@irf.se, +46 980 79122)



Miniature plasma instruments for nanosatellites and planetary missions

Nanosatellites for space research as well as planetary missions with their severe mass and volume constraints require development of new miniature sensors. The project is to further develop, build and test a prototype of a combined ion - electron spectrometer with mass identification based on new principles. The mass of the instrument is estimated to be less than 250g. The instrument will be proposed for future nanosatellite and / or planetary missions.


Contact person: Prof. Stas Barabash (stas.barabash@irf.se, +46 980 79122)



Development of mass analyzers for magnetospheric and planetary missions

IRF has an international reputation as a builder of the lightest plasma mass analyzers in the world. The further development of our analyzers requires improving the design of high voltage supplies and introducing time-of-flight technique. The project would concentrate around these two main areas. The exact definition is pending the confirmation of the flight opportunity for the Japanese mission to Venus (fall 2001).


Contact person: Prof. Stas Barabash (stas.barabash@irf.se, +46 980 79122)



Development of the ENA instrument for the Double Star mission

IRF is participating in development of the ENA (Energetic Neutral Atom) imager, which will fly on-board the Chinese satellite Double Star - Polar. The spacecraft will be launched in 2003 to study the earth's magnetosphere. The instrument comprises an array of solid state detectors to measure the ENA flux in the energy range 15 - 300 keV. The project involves instrument simulation, high voltage supply development, testing and calibration at Manne Siegbahn Laboratory in Stockholm (April 2002). Work on the project should start immediately.

Contact person: Prof. Stas Barabash (stas.barabash@irf.se, +46 980 79122)



Analysis of data from Neutral Particle Detector (NPD) ASPERA–3/4 onboard Mars and Venus Express

ASPERA–3 and –4 experiments onboard Mars and Venus Express missions carry identical sensors NPDs (Neutral Particle Detector). NPD provides directional measurements of ENA fluxes in the energy range 100 eV – 10 keV (with energy and mass (H, O) resolution). Any topics related to ENA imaging at Mars and Venus within the frame of the NPD capabilities can be addressed in this project, for example inversion of ENA images to the parent ion (proton) and exospheric (hydrogen) distributions, morphology of the ENA emissions from non-magnetized planets, ENA sounding of the upper atmopshere

Contact person: Dr. Yoshifumi Futaana (yoshifumi.futaana@irf.se, +46 980 79025)
Contact person: Prof. Stas Barabash (stas.barabash@irf.se, +46 980 79122)



Market study of availability of radiation tolerant semiconductor components on the world market

- Market study of free CPU cores for implementation in space qualified FPGAs

- Market study of radiation tolerant semiconductor components on the world market

- Market study of multi-channel TOF (Time Of Flight) systems with time resolution <1 ns and radiation loads >300 kRad

Radiation tolerant electronic components are used in IRF-K ion and neutral gas mass spectrometers. The studies consists of surveys of radiation tolerant semiconductor components, either available as commercial items or as ASICs from organizations which have made their own and non-commercial designs.

Contact person: Mr. Herman Andersson (herman.andersson@irf.se, +46 980 79034)
Contact person: Prof. Stas Barabash (stas.barabash@irf.se, +46 980 79122)



Development of a high resolution mass spectrometer

This hardware project is to develop a prototype of a high resolution mass spectrometer (M/dM ~100) for the energy range up to 100 eV for the coming planetary missions.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



PRIMA (PRISMA Ion Mass Analyzer) calibrations

PRIMA is a mass analyzer to fly onboard the Swedish technological mission PRISMA. PRIMA is a technological experiment to verify entirely new principles of mass analyses based on the MEMS technology. The project is to participate / carry on calibrations of the PRIMA experiment in the IRF calibration facilities.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Development of new Energetic Neutral Atom (ENA) sources

This hardware project is to complete development, install, and verify new ENAs sources based on sputtering and neutralization principles. Very limited number of such sources suitable for ENA instument calibration exist worldwide. The task combines vacuum technologies, electronics, physics of ion sources, surface physics and mechnical aspects.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Design and implementation of an ion beam profile scanner

The purpose of this hardware project is to design, implement and calibrate a scanning ion beam monitor for IRF's ion calibration system. The knowledge of the ion beam intensity and profile is the starting point for all instrument calibrations. The new design should be able to ultimatively replace the present system in terms of flexibilty and usability. The new system will need to be integrated with currently used monitoring systems and the corresponding generic data aquisition system.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Development of ion optics for an imaging high resolution ion mass spectrometer

This project aims to the first stage of development of a new instrument. Several design ideas of a new instrument are available for deeper study. The studies include computer optimization of geometries, taking mechanical, electrical an functional constaraints into accout and simulating performance of a selected design.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Ion optical simulations for the MIPA instrument on BepiColombo

The Miniature Precipitation Analyzer (MIPA) is an instrument selected to fly on the Bepi Colombo mission to Mercury. MIPA is designed to measure solar wind ions or ions of solar wind origin in the hermean environment. The project consists in performing ion-optical simulations of the MIPA entrace system in order to maximize its performance. Simulations are done using the SIMION ion optical raytracing software supported by custom made external software in C, Perl or Matlab. Due to the size of the task more than one person may work simultaneously on this project.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Ion optical simulations for the PDA instrument proposed for Laplace

The Plasma Dynamics Analyzer (PDA) is a sensor proposed to be flown on ESA's Laplace mission to Jupiter. PDA is designed to measure plasma populations around Jupiter and its moons. The instrument is currently in its definition phase, and several different instrument concepts are under evaluation. The project consists in performing ion-optical simulations of the whole or of parts of the PDA instrument in order to maximize its performance. Simulations are done using the SIMION ion optical raytracing software supported by custom made external software in C, Perl or Mathlab. Due to the size of the task more than one person may work simultaneously on this project.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



PRIMA data analysis

IRF - Kiruna in collaboration with Chalmers developed and flew in space first ever ion mass spectrometer using MEMS (micro electromechanical system) shutters for particle velocity analysis. The instrument also carried an alternative system based on electrostatic gater. The project is to investigate MEMS and electrostatic gater performance in space.

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Design of ENA telescope for the coming missions to Jupiter and Moon

The project includes development and simulation of the ion optic (ion tracing) for a new type of instrument, a single pixel, high sensitive energetic neutral atom detector (ENA telescope).

Contact person: Dr. Martin Wieser (martin.wieser@irf.se, +46 980 79198)



Venus Express: Ion data analysis

Ion data from the IMA (Ion Mass Analyzer) sensor onboard the Mars Express spacecraft makes it possible to study the interaction between the solar wind and the induced magnetosphere of Mars. For example, we are currently looking at the outflow of oxygen ions from the Martian atmosphere and also at the precipitation of solar wind protons and alpha-particles onto the atmosphere. A similar sensor is flown onboard Venus Express and we like to compare the solar wind interaction with the two planets. The first part of the project is to modify the existing Matlab code, written for Mars Express data, to handle data from Venus Express instead. The second part is to evaluate the output and identify potential problems with the Venus Express data set. The project requires an interest in scientific data analysis and a basic knowledge of programming in Matlab.

Contact person: Dr Gabriella Stenberg (gabriella.stenberg@irf.se, +46 980 79014)



Mars Express: Where is the He+? (Data analysis)

Ion data from the IMA (Ion Mass Analyzer) sensor onboard the Mars Express spacecraft makes it possible to study the interaction between the solar wind and the induced magnetosphere of Mars. We have been studying the precipitation of solar wind protons and alpha-particles (He++) onto the Martian atmosphere. It is believed that a substantial part of the Helium seen in the planet's atmosphere comes from precipitating solar wind alpha-particles. To achieve a balance in the atmosphere Helium is also continuously lost from the atmosphere, for example as single-ionized He+ ions. Strangely enough, we observe very little He+ with Mars Express compared to previous measurements around the planet. The goal of this project is to make a survey of the He+ observations we made with Mars Express. Questions to be answered include: In which locations around Mars and at which altitudes do we observed He+? Which energies do the He+ ions have? In which directions are they moving? The project requires an interest in scientific data analysis and a basic knowledge of programming in Matlab.

Contact person: Dr Gabriella Stenberg (gabriella.stenberg@irf.se, +46 980 79014)




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