Solar Probe Cup (SPC) is a Faraday cup instrument on board NASA's Parker Solar Probe (PSP) spacecraft designed to make rapid measurements of thermal coronal and solar wind plasma. The spacecraft is in a heliocentric orbit that takes it closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft, allowing measurements to be made where the coronal and solar wind plasma is being heated and accelerated. The SPC instrument was designed to be pointed directly at the Sun at all times, allowing the solar wind (which is flowing primarily radially away from the Sun) to be measured throughout the orbit. The instrument is capable of measuring solar wind ions with an energy between 100 and 6000 V (protons with speeds from 139 to 1072 km s−1). It also measures electrons with an energy/charge between 100 and 1500 V. SPC has been designed to have a wide dynamic range that is capable of measuring protons and alpha particles at the closest perihelion (9.86 solar radii from the center of the Sun) and out to 0.25 au. Initial observations from the first orbit of PSP indicate that the instrument is functioning well.
The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series
- Pub Date:
- February 2020
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;
- Physics - Plasma Physics;
- Physics - Space Physics