Spectrometer Gratings Enable Mars Sample Analysis
- Tuesday, 01 April 2014
Volume-phase, holographic-grating Raman
Raman laser spectroscopy technology from Wasatch Photonics will be used to detect possible evidence of past or present life on Mars, and to garner insights into the history of water on the Red Planet.
Madrid-based Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial, a public research organization specializing in aerospace research and technology development, will contribute to the ExoMars mission in 2018 with an instrument that uses Raman spectroscopy. The mission is led by the European Space Agency with contributions from Russia.
To create the high-throughput spectrometer, Wasatch Photonics will manufacture high-performance, volume-phase, holographic gratings. The proprietary gratings offer low polarization dependence, high dispersion, and high diffraction efficiencies. With the gratings, the company is able to create a spectrometer with the lowest limit of detection. The Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial will use the technology on a compact, highly efficient Raman spectrometer instrument.
Once on the Mars surface, a drill in the ExoMars rover will collect samples up to two meters beneath the ground. The samples will be crushed into a fine powder and studied inside the rover’s analytical laboratory. The Raman laser spectrometer is designed to analyze the samples, obtaining information about their mineralogy and chemical composition, and detect possible organic compounds.
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