Status Report

An Orbitrap-based laser desorption/ablation mass spectrometer designed for spaceflight

By SpaceRef Editor
July 25, 2018
Filed under ,

Ricardo Arevalo Jr., Laura Selliez, Christelle Briois, Nathalie Carrasco, Laurent Thirkell, Barnabé Cherville, Fabrice Colin, Bertrand Gaubicher, Benjamin Farcy, Xiang Li, Alexander Makarov
(Submitted on 25 Jul 2018)

RATIONALE: The investigation of cryogenic planetary environments as potential harbors for extant life and/or contemporary sites of organic synthesis represents an emerging focal point in planetary exploration. Next generation instruments need to be capable of unambiguously determining elemental and/or molecular stoichiometry via highly accurate mass measurements and the separation of isobaric interferences. METHODS: An OrbitrapTM analyzer adapted for spaceflight (referred to as the CosmOrbitrap), coupled with a commercial pulsed UV laser source (266 nm), is shown to successfully characterize a variety of planetary analog samples via ultrahigh resolution laser desorption/ablation mass spectrometry. The materials analyzed in this study include: jarosite (a hydrous sulfate detected on Mars); magnesium sulfate (a potential component of the subsurface ocean on Europa); uracil (a nucleobase of RNA); and a variety of amino acids. RESULTS: The instrument configuration tested here enables: measurement of major elements and organic molecules with ultrahigh mass resolution (m/{\Delta}m higher than 120,000, FWHM); quantification of isotopic abundances with 1.0% (2{\sigma}) precision; and, identification of highly accurate masses within 3.2 ppm of absolute values. The analysis of a residue of a dilute solution of amino acids demonstrates the capacity to detect twelve amino acids in positive ion mode at concentrations as low as 1 pmol/mm2 while maintaining mass resolution and accuracy requirements. CONCLUSIONS: The CosmOrbitrap mass analyzer is highly sensitive and delivers mass resolution/accuracy unmatched by any instrument sent into orbit or launched into deep space. This prototype instrument, which maps to a spaceflight implementation, represents a missionenabling technology capable of advancing planetary exploration for decades to come.

Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
DOI:    10.1002/rcm.8244
Cite as:    arXiv:1807.09454 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1807.09454v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Nathalie Carrasco
[v1] Wed, 25 Jul 2018 06:57:29 GMT (936kb)

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