Publications by Neil Bowles

An electric field sensor to measure charged dust on the Marco Polo asteroid sample return mission

International Astronautical Federation - 59th International Astronautical Congress 2008, IAC 2008 3 (2008) 1741-1748

KL Aplin, EC Sawyer, AJ Coates, DJ Parker, GH Jones, NE Bowles, MS Whalley

The Marco Polo mission has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as a candidate for launch under the Cosmic Vision programme in -2017. The mission ultimately aims to understand the origins of the planets and even life itself, by returning a sample of material from a primitive asteroid, representative of the early Solar System. Particles on the surface of the asteroid are readily charged by photoelectric emission. Preliminary calculations suggest that photoelectric fields of tens of volts per metre are expected, and electrostatic transport, levitation, and even complete ejection from the asteroid's gravitational field seem likely for typical particles at the proposed candidate asteroids. The electrical and charged particle environment at the asteroid surface is therefore expected to be significant for sample selection and characterisation. The Asteroid Charge Experiment (ACE), comprising an electric field sensor to detect charged dust particles, and an electron spectrometer to measure both photoelectrons and electrons from the solar wind, is described here. ACE will also be able to determine the relative electrostatic potentials of the spacecraft and asteroid surface, which will quantify the electrical effects of the sampling process itself on the asteroid environment.

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