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 What happens when we heat the atomic lattice of a magnet all of a sudden?
18.07.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin

nachricht Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino
16.07.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

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: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>