20-EPN2-116: Hypervelocity Impacts for DISC Calibration
March 11, 2024

20-EPN2-116: HIDISCC (Hypervelocity Impacts for DISC Calibration)

Visit by Vincenzo Della Corte, Osservatorio Astronomico Capodimonte Napoli, INAF (Italy), to TA2.7 Light Gas Gun Laboratory, University of Kent (UK)
Dates of visit: 27-29 March 2023

Report summary: The Comet Interceptor space mission is to launch in 2029 to study a dynamically new comet. Two of the three spacecraft involved will host copies of the Dust Impact Sensor and Counter
(DISC), which will measure the physical properties of cometary dust. The spacecraft’s velocity (7-70 km/s) will result in hypervelocity dust impacts on DISC. Combined with the range of dust particle sizes, this will create a wide range of impact momentum (10-11–10-3 kg/m/s). To cover the upper part of the momentum range, DISC calibration will be performed with hypervelocity simulated impacts induced by lasers. To perform DISC characterization and calibration in the lower momentum range, we carried out experiments at the Light Gas Gun Impact Facility at the University of Kent (UK).
To calibrate DISC and check the sensing element formed by the aluminum plate and the
piezoelectric transducers:

  • We performed 9 shots at the Light Gas Gun Impact Facility at the University of Kent.
    We used different particle sizes and materials and different speeds, utilising different
    approaches, i.e. single particles with diameters down to 400 nm and buck-shots of a
    mixture of minerals and very light hollow spheres.
  • The signals from the piezoelectrics will be used to verify DISC estimated
    performance and enable a generally-valid impact sensor calibration procedure.
    All 9 shots provided signals, this was for both single impacts and multiple buck- shot impacts.
    The results of the experiment confirmed the capability of the instrument to measure the
    momentum of particles impacting in the hypervelocity range.

Read the full scientific report, with kind permission from Vincenzo Della Corte.