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ILMA: Ion Laser Mass Analyser. A Mass-Spectrometer for In-Situ Characterization of a Near Earth Object (NEO)

Abstract : Like other small bodies of the Solar System, asteroids are the remnants of planet formation. Their compositions are inherited from the Solar Nebula at the time of planetesimals accretion into planets, 4.5 billion years ago. They are valuable objects to assess the physicochemical conditions prevailing at the time and place of their formation in the Solar Nebula. Among them, some are known to be rich in carbon and volatile species (including water), which suggests that they never underwent major heating and differentiation events. Their organic content is also of prime interest because the chemical evolution leading to life on Earth may have been initiated by the delivery of extraterrestrial organic compounds into primitive oceans. For these reasons, several space missions are currently considered by ESA and JAXA for a sample return mission to a primitive carbonaceous Near-Earth Object (NEO): MARCO POLO, HAYABUZA 2, etc... Their goal is to characterize a NEO at multiple scales via in-situ measurements by a science payload onboard an orbiter and a lander, and to bring samples back to Earth. ILMA is a concept for a new generation high resolution mass spectrometer, proposed to be part of a lander payload for in situ science. This instrument will be a Fourier Transform ion trap mass spectrometer using Laser Desorption and Ionization Mass Spectrometry (LDIMS) into a single platform. To this end, an Orbitrap mass analyser (developed by the Thermofisher Company) will be coupled to a laser source. The sample will be exposed to the laser beam producing desorbed ions which will be collected into the ion trap using the orbital trapping method. Ions will be stabilized in the trap by purely electrostatic quadro-logarithmic electrical fields and the detection undertaken by a non destructive measurement of the ion oscillation frequency inside the trap. Indeed, the trapped ions induce a periodic signal converted using Fourier Transform (FT) into an ultra-high mass resolution spectrum (M/∆M > 60,000 up to m/z =400 u). Moreover, ILMA is planned to become one of the lightest (2 kg), smallest (15x15x5 cm3 without the electronic box) and low power consumption (around 9 Watts) mass spectrometer ever achieved for space. Therefore ILMA will constitute a significant progress compared to previous mass spectrometers in space, allowing to distinguish isomass compounds and to measure isotopomer abundances. ILMA will be able to measure in situ chemical (mineral and organic) and isotopic compositions of the NEO, and should bring a new light of their astrobiological relevance for the study of the origin of life on Earth.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 24, 2012 - 12:48:36 PM
Last modification on : Monday, November 23, 2020 - 11:24:02 AM



Hervé Cottin, B. Arezki, Jean-Jacques Berthelier, Abdel Bouabdellah, A. Boukrara, et al.. ILMA: Ion Laser Mass Analyser. A Mass-Spectrometer for In-Situ Characterization of a Near Earth Object (NEO). 38th COSPAR Scientific Assembly, Jul 2010, Bremen, Germany. ⟨in2p3-00673727⟩



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