The space agency has announced a gift of US$ 3 million to Southwest Research Institute for developing the LASVEGAS spectrometer for lunar missions.
The Laser Absorption Spectrometer for Volatiles and Evolved Gas instrument is capable of providing precise measurements volatile compounds within the atmosphere of planets and surfaces, which is crucial for carrying our space research and exploratory activities. consistent with the chief investigator of the Lunar LASVEGAS, Dr Scot Rafkin, the instrument is as big as a roll of paper towels, and is therefore quite compact, has lesser volume, mass and power, which makes it a key instrument for space flight. Dr Rafkin also added that the spectrometer are often deployed from the foremost compact landers or rovers and carried in one hand during crewed missions across the planet’s surface trying to find useful resources like methane, ice, and water.
The spectrometer currently studies gases present in atmospheres of Mars to work out the gaseous composition. The instrument is additionally capable of heating some of the planet’s surface to know the composition of gases released within the atmosphere. as an example , the surface of Europa (Jupiter’s moon) or the soil on the solar surface. Now the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received funding of US$ 3 million from NASA’s DALI (Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation) program to customize this design for operating on lunar surface.
The gas travels to the cylindrical, compact slot from where the laser light of varying frequencies and wavelengths ricochets between refectory surfaces placed on each end. Repeated passage of sunshine through the gas causes the molecular types present within the gas to capture the sunshine in several ways counting on the light’s wavelength. The laser s then directed to the detector which analyses the intensity of the laser light and determines the quantity of VOCs. Each species has its own identity to suggest its abundance.