Object-plasma interaction in the vicinity of Enceladus
Sammanfattning: The Cassini spacecraft orbits Saturn since 2004, carrying a multitude of instruments for studies of the plasma environment around the planet as well as the constituents of the ring system. Of particular interest to the present thesis is the large E ring, which consists mainly of water ice grains, smaller than a few micrometres, referred to as dust. The work presented here is concerned with the interaction between, on the one hand, the plasma and, on the other hand, the dust, the spacecraft and the Langmuir probe carried by it. In Paper I, dust densities along the trajectory of Cassini, as it passes through the ring, are inferred from measured electron and ion densities. In Paper II, the situation where a Langmuir probe is located in the potential well of a spacecraft is considered. The importance of knowing the potential structure around the spacecraft and probe is emphasised and its effect on the probe’s current-voltage characteristic is illustrated with a simple analytical model. In Paper III, particle-in-cell simulations are employed to study the potential and density profiles around the Cassini as it travels through the plasma at the orbit of the moon Enceladus.
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