22 September 2005 ALICE: the ultraviolet imaging spectrograph aboard the New Horizons Pluto mission spacecraft
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Abstract
The ALICE instrument is a lightweight (4.4 kg), low-power (4.4 W) imaging spectrograph that is planned to fly aboard the New Horizons mission to Pluto/Charon and the Kuiper Belt. Its primary job is to detect a variety of important atomic and molecular species in Pluto's atmosphere, and to determine their relative abundances as a function of altitude so that a complete picture of Pluto's atmospheric composition and structure can be determined for the first time. ALICE would also be used to search for an atmosphere around Pluto's moon, Charon, as well as the Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) that New Horizons hopes to fly by after Pluto-Charon. The New Horizons ALICE design, based on the Rosetta ALICE instrument design now en route to Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft, incorporates an off-axis telescope feeding a Rowland-circle spectrograph with a 520-1870 Å spectral passband, a spectral point spread function of 3-6 Å FWHM, and an instantaneous spatial field-of-view of 6 degrees. Two separate input apertures that feed the telescope allow for both airglow and solar occultation observations during the mission. The focal plane camera is an imaging microchannel plate (MCP) double delay-line detector with dual solar-blind opaque photocathodes (KBr and CsI) and a focal surface that matches the 15-cm diameter Rowland-circle. Data taking modes include both histogram and pixel list exposures. We describe the scientific objectives of ALICE as well as the design, build, and environmental testing results of the flight model.
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S. Alan Stern, John Scherrer, David C. Slater, G. R. Gladstone, Greg Dirks, John Stone, Michael Davis, Marteen Versteeg, O. H. W. Siegmund, "ALICE: the ultraviolet imaging spectrograph aboard the New Horizons Pluto mission spacecraft", Proc. SPIE 5906, Astrobiology and Planetary Missions, 590618 (22 September 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.613128; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.613128
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