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New Concepts in Laser Instrumentation for Planetary Science and Astrobiology

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Luke
Sollitt

Emerging technologies in laser instrumentation might open the door to new kinds of measurements on planetary surfaces, and make traditional measurements much more efficiently. Two such technologies are discussed: the first, Laser Desorption Infrared (LDIR) spectroscopy, uses a laser at 3.1 microns to desorb a hot plume of water vapor from an icy surface. An experiment is currently underway to define the limits of this process for binary mixtures. The second technology uses off-nadir pointed lasers to gather multiple topographical profiles from an orbiting spacecraft. The objective is to attain multiple tracks over the same topography in a
single pass, and from those tracks, infer local gravity anomalies. Results from a simple model are discussed.

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