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Spectroscopic Observation of the Stardust Re-Entry in the Near UV with SLIT: Deduction of Surface Temperatures and Plasma RadiationThermal radiation of the heat-shield and the emission of the post-shock layer around the Stardust capsule, during its re-entry, were detected by a NASA-led observation campaign aboard NASA's DC-8 airborne observatory involving teams from several nations. The German SLIT experiment used a conventional spectrometer, in a Czerny-Turner configuration (300 mm focal length and a 600 lines/mm grating), fed by fiber optics, to cover a wavelength range from 324 nm to 456 nm with a pixel resolution of 0.08 nm. The reentering spacecraft was tracked m uansuinaglly a camera with a view angle of 20 degrees, and light from the capsule was collected using a small mirror telescope with a view angle of only 0.45 degrees. Data were gathered with a measurement frequency of 5 Hz in a 30-second time interval around the point of maximum heating until the capsule left the field of view. The emission of CN (as a major ablation product), N2(+) and different atoms were monitored successfully during that time. Due to the nature of the experimental set up, spatial resolution of the radiation field was not possible. Therefore, all measured values represent an integration of radiation from the visible part of the glowing heat shield, and from the plasma in the post-shock region. Further, due to challenges in tracking not every spectrum gathered contained data. The measured spectra can be split up into two parts: (i) continuum spectra which represent a superposition of the heat shield radiation and the continuum radiation of potential dust particles in the plasma, and (ii) line spectra from the plasma in the shock layer. Planck temperatures (interpreted as the surface temperatures of the Stardust heat shield) were determined assuming either a constant surface temperature, or a temperature distribution deduced from numerical simulation. The constant surface temperatures are in good agreement with numerical simulations, but the peak values at the stagnation point are significantly lower than those in the numerical simulation if a temperature distribution over the surface is assumed. Emission bands of CN and N2(+) were tracked along the visible trajectory and compared to a spectral simulation with satisfying agreement. Values for the integrated radiation of the transitions of interest for these species were extracted from this comparison.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Winter, Michael W. (California Univ. Santa Cruz, CA, United States)
Trumble, Kerry A. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2010
Subject Category
Space Radiation
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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