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In Situ Instruments
Above: The Curiosity Rover on Mars. Landers and rovers allow deployment of in situ instruments.

In Situ Instruments

Although remote observations can give us much, essential information for planetary exploration, a landed mission gives the opportunity to deploy instruments that can give even more and different details. Microdevices Laboratory (MDL) has used combinations of its products and approaches to develop a wide range of in situ instruments.

Since its invention near the beginning of the 20th century, the mass spectrometer has continuously developed to become one of the standard devices for chemical and isotopic analysis. Work in MDL has taken this development further both in terms of the analytical instrument and also in coupling it with a sample preparation or separation component. As well as developing ever smaller mass spectrometers, MDL has pioneered an alternative, very valuable approach to isotopic analysis, tunable laser spectrometry. Although these and other in situ instruments produced by MDL can be flown to other planets, they also can be used in a completely different application, safeguarding the health of astronauts.

In Situ Instruments

Products & Processes

Image from MDL Core Competency Project: Tunable Laser Spectrometers

Tunable Laser Spectrometers

Since the 1980s JPL has pioneered the development and deployment of Tunable Laser Spectrometers for NASA for in situ atmospheric and planetary applications. The vast majority of gaseous chemical substances exhibit...

Image from MDL Core Competency Project: Chemical Analysis & Life Detection

Chemical Analysis & Life Detection

These liquid-based chemical analysis technologies would not only enable us to identify life beyond Earth, should we encounter it during missions of exploration, but they would also provide the capability to characterize that life...

Image from MDL Core Competency Project: Mass Spectrometry

Mass Spectrometry

NASA considers the mass spectrometer as one of the instruments to be included in the payload of many planetary missions for in situ analysis. Developments in the Microdevices Laboratory (MDL) have found a completely...

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