Cosmic dust plays a vital role in many processes throughout the solar system. Knowledge of the evolution and properties of this dust provides a wealth of information about the dynamics of our solar system. In-situ measurements of cosmic dust are carried out by a variety of detection methods including integration plates, plasma detectors, acoustic sensors, and recently, polyvinylidene fluoride dust detectors. Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) dust detectors were first used on the Vega 1 and 2 spacecraft and have been used on various missions since. The latest PVDF instruments are the Cosmic Dust Experiment (CDE) on the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere spacecraft and the Student Dust Counter (SDC) on the New Horizons spacecraft. This thesis describes the operating principles and applications of PVDF dust detectors with a specific focus on these two instruments. It presents the scientific motivation for the two instruments, their development and construction, the early data from the missions and design improvements for future PVDF detectors.
|School||UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER|
|Subjects||Astronomy; Plasma physics|
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