Development of a Robust Planetary Polarization Nephelometer
Saltzman, Adam J.
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We are developing a polarization nephelometer using reliable, low power-consumption laser diodes, for use on future planetary decent probes. The laser diodes provide a polarization modulated illumination source which enables simultaneous collection of scattering intensity and polarization phase functions. Our device will be a significant upgrade to previous planetary nephelometers. The addition of polarization information greatly increases our ability to constrain the number density, size distribution, shape and chemical composition of atmospheric aerosols. We have succeeded in building and characterizing a polarization modulated laser source. In addition we have developed a numerical model of our full instrument, including optical losses, and a variety of scatters. Testing is underway, using a small glass cylinder as a well known scattering source, to confirm the choice of optical components, and verify our simulations. Following this we will test our device using known distributions of water droplets, which better simulate the range of expected atmospheric aerosols. Our current progress indicates that we will be able to provide a prototype nephelometer for terrestrial field deployment or balloon missions at the end of 2009.