Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

From Hannover around the world and to the Mars: LZH delivers laser for ExoMars 2020

21.11.2017

In three years, the rocket of the European-Russian ExoMars 2020 mission shall start its nine-month journey to Mars, together with a rover and surface platform. The flight model of the MOMA laser has reached the first milestone: the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. LZH has delivered the laser head to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA.

A major goal of the ExoMars mission is to search for past or present life on the Earth-like planet. One of the most important analytical instruments of the EXOMARS rover is the "Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer", MOMA for short. This is being developed together with further partners under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), Göttingen, Germany.


Elaborate and tight cable routing: The MOMA laser without laser sheath on the exit side.

Photo: LZH


Small laser on a long journey. The laser developed by the LZH will be used in the ExoMars 2020 mission's rover to search for life on Mars.

Graphic: ESA

The MOMA laser model, which has been delivered to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, is part of the Laser Desorption Mass Spectrometer (LD-MS) developed there. On Mars, it can identify and analyze organic matter. Organic molecules in the soil samples taken in situ could provide clues to possible forms of life.

Small, light and robust

In the past few years, the LZH has developed the diode-pumped solid-state laser head in the UV spectral range required for the investigations. The laser has an emission wavelength of 266 nm and an adjustable laser pulse energy of up to 130 μJ. Its most important unique features, however, are weight, size and robustness. With a length of about 20 cm it has a weight of only about 220 g.

In addition, the laser head has to be pretty robust in order to function properly on Mars: Mechanical shocks during the launch of the rocket and during the landing on Mars and very large temperature differences. On the other hand, the laser optics used must withstand both the UV radiation of the laser and the ionizing cosmic radiation. The optics with space-qualified optical coatings were provided by the Laseroptik GmbH and evaluated at the LZH.

Optimally adapted to harsh conditions

"The laser is optimally adapted to the harsh environmental conditions in space and its mission on Mars," explains Dr. Peter Weßels, Head of the Solid-State Lasers Group at the LZH. "We use a passively Q-switched Nd:YAG oscillator pumped longitudinally over an optical fiber. The infrared light of the oscillator is converted into ultraviolet radiation using nonlinear crystals. A temperature control is to ensure the function even with changing ambient temperature and also allows to flexibly adjust the output pulse energy."

Before delivery of the model aircraft to NASA, the laser head was thoroughly tested at the MPS in Göttingen. Currently, it is being integrated into the mass spectrometer at the Goddard Space Flight Center and tested again. It then has to pass environmental tests again with NASA's MS before being re-integrated into the Rover back in Europe.

The project is being funded by the Space Agency of the German Aerospace Center with funds from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology on the basis of a decision by the German Bundestag under the funding reference numbers 50QX1002 and 50QX1402.

Melanie Gauch | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire

nachricht NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland

15.11.2018 | Earth Sciences

When electric fields make spins swirl

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Discovery of a cool super-Earth

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>