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Solar and Heliospheric Research Group
Michigan Engineering
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Engineering

The SHRG specializes in developing innovative technologies for measuring space plasma. This includes mass composition spectrometers, specialized electronics, high voltage power supplies, and novel components to make flight hardware more lightweight and robust.

Facilities Hardware Projects

Main section

This is an area where we can give some information about each section at a glance.

Science

The SHRG is a world leader in the study of solar wind composition, heliospheric physics, and solar-planetary interactions.

Tech

The SHRG specializes in developing innovative technologies for measuring space plasma. This includes mass composition spectrometers, specialized electronics, high voltage power supplies, and novel components to make flight hardware more lightweight and robust.

Missions

The SHRG stays at the forefront of heliospheric science via its involvement with space research missions.

Data Analysis

The SHRG provides a critical link (pipeline source ?) between experimental measurements and the advancement of scientific knowledge.

In addition to inventing the instruments that collect and measure the plasma in space, the SHRG processes and analyzes the data from those instruments, providing the scientific community with high-quality data that can be used for research in many different fields.

Facilities

The University of Michigan Mass Spectrometry Lab is operated under the direction of the Solar and Heliospheric Research Group and works in partnership with the Space Physics Research Lab to develop, fabricate, test, and calibrate hardware for spaceflight missions and other innovative applications. The laboratory, housed on the first floor of the Space Research Building on the University of Michigan's North Campus, houses several vacuum chambers ranging from a small glass bell jar to large stainless steel chambers with multiple vacuum ports. The vacuum chambers are available for prototype testing and instrument calibration at pressures as low as 10-8 Torr. Ion beams are used with energies up to 30 keV, and include mass filtering capabilities. A Hydrogen lamp is used for tests of UV suppression, and facilities for vibration and thermal testing are also available on site.

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Hardware Projects

The SHRG specializes in developing innovative technologies for measuring space plasma. This includes mass composition spectrometers, specialized electronics, high voltage power supplies, and components to make flight hardware more capable, lightweight, and robust. Engineering in the Mass Spectrometry lab covers all stages of development, from initial simulations and conceptual design to the final flight calibrations. Some of the recent projects include: Read more...

  • The Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS), which was designed, built, tested, and calibrated by the SHRG in collaboration with SPRL for use on the MESSENGER mission. It provides ion composition for elements ranging from H to Ar and plasma energy distribution measurements (50 eV/e - 20 keV/e) in Mercury's magnetosphere. The instrument includes an electrostatic analyzer and time-of-flight telescope, and an electronics package comprising a TOF board, analog and digital processing boards, and high-voltage power supplies. FIPS was revolutionary for its light and compact hardware (less than 1.5 kg) and innovative design.
  • An optimized three-dimensional linear-electric-field time-of-flight analyzer uses an innovative field-shaping design to increase the mass resolution without increasing the instrument size or complexity. Ions that enter the sensor generate secondary electrons that are focused and isolated within the instrument, allowing a measurement of the time of flight of the ion to a high degree of accuracy. Integrated timing electronics were developed to consolidate parts and provide impact position and time of flight information on a single chip.
  • The development of nanoscale freestanding transmission gratings that allow particles to pass through, but impede the transmission of UV light. These gratings will allow our sensors to measure the signals of rare material in space without the high background levels that UV photons can generate.
  • A new operating mode for quadrupole mass spectrometers that substantially improves the mass resolution without modifying the design or increasing the power consumption.
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