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Revolutionizing IR Spectroscopy in Planetary Science using Photothermal Instrumentation

Presentation #319.05 in the session Future Missions, Instrumentations and Facilities - Part 2 (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Revolutionizing IR Spectroscopy in Planetary Science using Photothermal Instrumentation

ORIGINS (Organics and Regolith In-situ Grain Investigation using Near-range photothermal Spectroscopy) is a new instrument concept that combines the capabilities of laser topography determination with mid-infrared (IR) and Raman spectroscopy at sub-micron resolution, implementing reduced hardware complexity. Its unique combination of capabilities will enable the in situ identification of organic molecules and minerals, such as volatile resources or prebiotically important compounds, and their spatial distribution within the sample. The ORIGINS prototype, which has recently been set up at the Florida Space Institute, is capable of performing maps over large areas of the surface due to its high speed at spectral resolutions beyond the diffraction limit. It has less demanding sample requirements than nanoIR, and provides higher resolution than traditional IR microscopy. We have performed large-scale spectroscopic mapping on meteorite samples to identify spatial correlations between organic compounds and mineralogy at the sub-micron level. Using high fidelity soil simulants representative of bodies such as carbonaceous asteroids, the Moon, and Mars, we performed high resolution measurements for comparison to currently available data. The work presented here produced data using granular and millimeter-sized samples. Though the instrument has less strict sample requirements than most IR techniques, these samples were prepared in a way to allow for better consistency in our preliminary data. Granular samples were used to demonstrate mapping and spectra capability for granular surfaces and samples and the millimeter-sized samples offered the ability to vary surface roughness. Further, the instrument is capable of making minor adjustments during the course of measurement to ensure more accurate results. These measurements allow for introduction of this technology to the field of planetary science while demonstrating the capabilities of the instrument. This work represents a 100-fold increase in the resolution that such experiments have been performed so far.

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