Analytical Sciences, Award- or Invited Lecture
Chemical Analysis by Mass Spectrometry in Space - Initial Results from the Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Kathrin Altwegg1
1Space Research & Planetary Sciences, Physics Institute, University of Bern, CH-3012 Bern, and the ROSINA team
In situ mass spectrometry in space has its own challenges. Not only has the mass spectrometer to be lightweight and energy efficient, but it also has to withstand a broad temperature range, high vibration levels during launch and a wide variety of pressures. Autonomous operation over long times, immunity to cosmic rays and high compression of data are other prerequisites for successful instruments on board spacecraft. The probably most advanced instrument currently flying aboard a spacecraft is the ROSINA (Rosetta Sensor for Ion and Neutral Analysis) instrument on board the ESA Rosetta spacecraft encountering comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta is following the comet from almost 4 AU through its perihelion at 1.3 AU and out again for more than 1 ½ years. The closest distances of just a few kilometers to the comet will be reached during the delivery of the lander Philae in November. Rosetta will, at the time of the SCG fall meeting, be less than 30 km from the cometary surface, but still outside of 3 AU from the Sun. The cometary atmosphere consists mostly of water and CO/CO2. However, it is known that comets have quite a diversified organic part in their coma, both as volatiles and as dust. Furthermore, isotopic ratios in water and other molecules can give very strong indications on the formation process of cometary, and therefore solar system material.

In this talk I will give a short overview on mass spectrometry in space and present the ROSINA instruments, the challenges, and the results so far.