A numerical study of geometry dependent errors in velocity, temperature, and density measurements from single grid planar retarding potential analyzers

Davidson, R. L.; Earle, G. D.; Klenzing, J. H.; Heelis, R. A.
August 2010
Physics of Plasmas;Aug2010, Vol. 17 Issue 8, p082901
Academic Journal
Planar retarding potential analyzers (RPAs) have been utilized numerous times on high profile missions such as the Communications/Navigation Outage Forecast System and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program to measure plasma composition, temperature, density, and the velocity component perpendicular to the plane of the instrument aperture. These instruments use biased grids to approximate ideal biased planes. These grids introduce perturbations in the electric potential distribution inside the instrument and when unaccounted for cause errors in the measured plasma parameters. Traditionally, the grids utilized in RPAs have been made of fine wires woven into a mesh. Previous studies on the errors caused by grids in RPAs have approximated woven grids with a truly flat grid. Using a commercial ion optics software package, errors in inferred parameters caused by both woven and flat grids are examined. A flat grid geometry shows the smallest temperature and density errors, while the double thick flat grid displays minimal errors for velocities over the temperature and velocity range used. Wire thickness along the dominant flow direction is found to be a critical design parameter in regard to errors in all three inferred plasma parameters. The results shown for each case provide valuable design guidelines for future RPA development.


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