by Staff Writers
Hannover, Germany (SPX) Nov 21, 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), Gottingen, Germany.
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 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
Before delivery of the model aircraft to NASA, the laser head was thoroughly tested at the MPS in Gottingen. 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.
Paris (ESA) Oct 23, 2017
If there are habitable conditions on Mars, they may be underground. Scientists from around the world are now testing how to search for life in extreme environments by venturing a kilometre beneath the surface in a UK mine. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer has joined the expedition. For two weeks, nearly 30 scientists and instrument specialists are venturing deep below for the fifth Mine Analo ... read more
Exomars Mission 2020 at ESA
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more
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