The PLS experiment measures the low energy ions and electrons that comprise the bulk of the plasma. Three plasma detectors point in the direction of the Earth to observed solar wind flow and a fourth looks at a right angle to this direction to observed planetary magnetospheres and the heliosphere. It determines the flow speed and direction, density, and temperature of the plasma.
Plasma Science (PLS) Objective
- The properties and radial evolution of the solar wind.
- The interacion of the solar wind with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
- The sources, properties, and morphology of the magnetospheric plasma from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
- The interactions of magnetospheric plasma with the planetary satellites with particular emphasis on plasma properties in the vicinity of Io, Titan, and Triton.
- Ions of interstellar origin.
- Detect and characterize the nature of the termination shock, where the solar wind slows down and becomes more dense as it prepares to encounter the heliopause.
- Make the first detection of the heliopause boundary and the first detection of the plasma from outside our solar system, the interstellar medium.