Electron Collision Laboratory

View of the laboratory showing the EELS instrument on the right and the metastable oxygen experiment on the left.

The focus of our laboratory is the experimental study of electron collision processes that are prevalent in astrophysical and planetary plasma environments using an electron energy loss spectrometer (EELS).  Current projects include studies of electron hydrogen collisions to enable accurate modeling and interpretation of the dayglow and aurora on Jupiter and Saturn, the [H]/[H2] mixing ratio and vertical profiles in Saturn’s atmosphere, the plume of atomic hydrogen recently identified on Saturn, and to elucidate the role of electron collisions in producing warm H2 in protoplanetary disks.  Recently, we developed a time-of-flight metastable oxygen detection scheme that enables us to measure cross sections and dissociation dynamics for electron impact dissociative excitation of metastable oxygen, including O(1S) and O(1D).  Such dissociative excitation of oxygen-containing molecules plays a significant role in the plasma environments around Earth, Mars, Europa, and Io.

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