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Cassini Plasma Spectrometer

The Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) measures the energy and electrical charge of particles such as electrons and protons that the instrument encounters. The instrument is used to study the composition, density, flow, velocity, and temperature of ions and electrons in Saturn's magnetosphere. Shaped much like a teardrop, Saturn's magnetosphere is huge. It spreads out almost a million miles, engulfing the orbits of Titan and most of the ringed planet's icy moons, as well as the famous rings.

The instrument consists of three sensors: an electron spectrometer, an ion beam spectrometer, and an ion mass spectrometer. A motor-driven actuator rotates the sensor package to provide 208-degree scanning in the azimuth of the spacecraft. The electron spectrometer makes measurements of the energy of incoming electrons; its energy range is 0.7 to 30,000 electron volts. The ion beam spectrometer determines the energy to charge ratio of an ion; its energy range is 1 electron volt to 50 kilo-electron volts. The ion mass spectrometer's energy range is 1 electron volt to 50 kilo-electron volts.