Towards In-Situ Geochemical Analysis of Planetary Rocks and Soils by Laser Ablation/Ionisation Time-of-Flight Mass SpectrometryOPEN ACCESS 

Marek Tulej, Peter Keresztes Schmidt, Salome Gruchola, Coenraad P. de Koning, Kristina A. Kipfer, Nikita J. Boeren, Niels F. W. Ligterink, Andreas Riedo and Peter Wurz

Universe, 2022, 8(8), 410
Published: 4 August 2022


“Spectroscopic instruments were a part of payloads on orbiter and lander missions and delivered vast data sets to explore minerals, elements and molecules on air-less rocky planets, asteroids and comets on global and local scales. To answer current space science questions, the chemical composition of planetary rocks and soils at grain scale is required, as well as measurements of element (isotope) concentrations down to the part per million or lower. Only mass spectrometric methods equipped with laser sampling ion sources can deliver the necessary information. Laser sampling techniques can reduce the dimensions of the investigated sample material down to micrometre scale, allowing for the composition analysis of grain-sized objects or thin mineral layers with sufficiently high spatial resolution, such that important geological processes can be recognised and studied as they progressed in time. We describe the performance characteristics, when applied to meteorite and geological samples, of a miniaturised laser ablation/ionisation mass spectrometer (named LMS) system that has been developed in our group. The main advantages of the LMS instrument over competing techniques are illustrated by examples of high spatial (lateral and vertical) resolution studies in different meteorites, terrestrial minerals and fossil-like structures in ancient rocks for most elements of geochemical interest. Top-level parameters, such as dimension, weight, and power consumption of a possible flight design of the LMS system are presented as well. “