The Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation (PEPSSI) on the New Horizons Mission
The Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation (PEPSSI) comprises the hardware and accompanying science investigation on the New Horizons spacecraft to measure pick-up ions from Pluto’s outgassing atmosphere. To the extent that Pluto retains its characteristics similar to those of a “heavy comet” as detected in stellar occultations since the early 1980s, these measurements will characterize the neutral atmosphere of Pluto while providing a consistency check on the atmospheric escape rate at the encounter epoch with that deduced from the atmospheric structure at lower altitudes by the ALICE, REX, and SWAP experiments on New Horizons. In addition, PEPSSI will characterize any extended ionosphere and solar wind interaction while also characterizing the energetic particle environment of Pluto, Charon, and their associated system. First proposed for development for the Pluto Express mission in September 1993, what became the PEPSSI instrument went through a number of development stages to meet the requirements of such an instrument for a mission to Pluto while minimizing the required spacecraft resources. The PEPSSI instrument provides for measurements of ions (with compositional information) and electrons from 10 s of keV to ∼1 MeV in a 160°×12° fan-shaped beam in six sectors for 1.5 kg and ∼2.5 W.