PSP Bibliography


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Solar Probe Plus: Impact of light scattering by solar system dust on star tracker performance

AuthorStrikwerda, Thomas; Strong, Shadrian; Rogers, Gabe;
KeywordsAtomic absorption spectrometry; Dust; Light scattering; NASA; Probes; Solar system; Space flight; Stars; Parker Engineering
AbstractNASA s upcoming Solar Probe Plus mission will be the first to approach the Sun as close as 8.5 solar radii from the surface and provide in-situ observations of the Sun s corona. In the absence of observational data (e.g., Helios, Pioneer), for distances less than 0.3 AU, the ambient dust distribution close to the Sun remains poorly known and limited to model extrapolation for distances < 1 AU. For the Solar Probe Plus (SPP) mission it is critical to characterize the inner solar system dust environment to evaluate potential impacts on spacecraft health and, in particular, the attitude system. We have implemented a dust distribution model, along with Mie scattering effects, to estimate the magnitude of solar irradiance scattered towards an optical sensor, specifically a star tracker, as a function of ecliptic latitude and longitude for distances 0.05 to 1 AU. Background irradiance data from NASA s MESSENGER mission (down to 0.3 AU solar distance) reveal trends consistent with our model predictions, potentially validating the dust theory. This paper presents the scattering model, the irradiance distribution over the sky, and analysis of MESSENGER data gathered to date during the mission cruise phase. Implication for the SPP star tracker background irradiance, effects on star magnitude sensitivity and position accuracy, and operation are also discussed.
Year of Publication2010
JournalAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
Number of Pages253-267
Date Published