Laboratory for Atomic and Surface Physics

Research > Solar System

Effects of ion irradiation in space

An important part of our research aims at characterizing and understanding the effect of irradiation with energetic ions, electrons and ultraviolet photons on surfaces in space. We are interested in chemical and optical alterations, erosion, and electrostatic charging.
Sputtering of ice by low energy ions and astronomical implications

The magnetosphere of Saturn has ions with much lower average energies than the Jovian magnetosphere. This finding by Cassini was surprising and implied a revision of our understanding of plasma interactions with icy grains and satellites. Recently, we measured the sputtering of ice for low energy ions and obtained a scaling with ion type, energy, angle of incidence and temperature. The results were used to calculate erosion rates of ices in the rings and icy satellites. Relevant publications: Nucl. Instr. Methods. Phys. Res. B 209 (2003) 294, Surface Sci. 588 (2005) 1, Surface Sci. 602 (2008) 156; Planet. Space Sci. 56 (2008) 1238

CASSINI mission research

Recent publications of our team CAPS (Cassini Plasma Spectrometer) include Science 307 (2005) 1262, Geophys. Res. Lett.  32 (2005) L14S04, Geophys. Res. Lett. 32 (2005)  L14S09, Planet. Space Sci. 56 (2008) 3.