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Highly miniaturized laser ablation time-of-flight mass spectrometer for a planetary rover

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4 Author(s)
Rohner, Urs ; Physikalisches Institut, University of Bern, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland ; Whitby, James A. ; Wurz, P. ; Barabash, Stas

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We report the development and testing of a highly miniaturized mass spectrometer and ion source intended to be deployed on an airless planetary surface to measure the elemental and isotopic composition of solids, e.g., rocks and soils. Our design concentrates at this stage on the proposed BepiColombo mission to the planet Mercury. The mass analyzer is a novel combination of an electrostatic analyzer and a reflectron time-of-flight design. The ion source utilizes a laser induced plasma, which is directly coupled into the mass analyzer. Laser ablation gives high spatial resolution and avoids the need for sample preparation. Our prototype instrument has a demonstrated mass resolution m/Δm full width at half maximum in excess of 180 and a predicted dynamic range of better than five orders of magnitude. We estimate that a flight instrument would have a mass of 280 g (including laser and all electronics), a volume of 84 cm3, and could operate on 3 W power. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.

Published in:

Review of Scientific Instruments  (Volume:75 ,  Issue: 5 )