The MAGIC meteoric smoke particle sampler
2014 (English)In: Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, ISSN 1364-6826, Vol. 118, 127-144 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Between a few tons to several hundred tons of meteoric material enters the Earth's atmosphere each day, and most of this material is ablated and vaporized in the 70-120 km altitude region. The subsequent chemical conversion, re-condensation and coagulation of this evaporated material are thought to form nanometre sized meteoric smoke particles (MSPs). These smoke particles are then subject to further coagulation, sedimentation and global transport by the mesospheric circulation. MSPs have been proposed as a key player in the formation and evolution of ice particle layers around the mesopause region, i.e. noctilucent clouds (NLC) and polar mesosphere summer echoes (PMSE). MSPs have also been implicated in mesospheric heterogeneous chemistry to influence the mesospheric odd oxygen/odd hydrogen (O-x/HOx) chemistry, to play an important role in the mesospheric charge balance, and to be a significant component of stratospheric aerosol and enhance the depletion of O-3. Despite their apparent importance, little is known about the properties of MSPs and none of the hypotheses can be verified without direct evidence of the existence, altitude and size distribution, shape and elemental composition. The aim of the MAGIC project (Mesospheric Aerosol - Genesis, Interaction and Composition) was to develop an instrument and analysis techniques to sample for the first time MSPs in the mesosphere and return them to the ground for detailed analysis in the laboratory. MAGIC meteoric smoke particle samplers have been flown on several sounding rocket payloads between 2005 and 2011. Several of these flights concerned non-summer mesosphere conditions when pure MSP populations can be expected. Other flights concerned high latitude summer conditions when MSPs are expected to be contained in ice particles in the upper mesosphere. In this paper we present the MAGIC project and describe the MAGIC MSP sampler, the measurement procedure and laboratory analysis. We also present the attempts to retrieve MSPs from these flights, the challenges inherent to the sampling of nanometre sized particles and the subsequent analysis of the sampled material, and thoughts for the future. Despite substantial experimental efforts, the MAGIC project has so far failed to provide conclusive results. While particles with elemental composition similar to what is to be expected from MSPs have been found, the analysis has been compromised by challenges with different types of contamination and uncertainties in the sticking efficiency of the particles on the sampling surfaces.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 118, 127-144 p.
Meteoric smoke particles, Rocket-borne sampling, Mesosphere
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107085DOI: 10.1016/j.jastp.2014.03.003ISI: 000340332900002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-107085DiVA: diva2:744223