1 September 2015 Stand-off molecular composition analysis
Author Affiliations +
Abstract
Molecular composition of distant stars is explored by observing absorption spectra. The star produces blackbody radiation that passes through the molecular cloud of vaporized material surrounding the star. Characteristic absorption lines are discernible with a spectrometer, and molecular composition is investigated by comparing spectral observations with known material profiles. Most objects in the solar system—asteroids, comets, planets, moons—are too cold to be interrogated in this manner. Molecular clouds around cold objects consist primarily of volatiles, so bulk composition cannot be probed. Additionally, low volatile density does not produce discernible absorption lines in the faint signal generated by low blackbody temperatures. This paper describes a system for probing the molecular composition of cold solar system targets from a distant vantage. The concept utilizes a directed energy beam to melt and vaporize a spot on a distant target, such as from a spacecraft orbiting the object. With sufficient flux (~10 MW/m2), the spot temperature rises rapidly (to ~2 500 K), and evaporation of all materials on the target surface occurs. The melted spot creates a high-temperature blackbody source, and ejected material creates a molecular plume in front of the spot. Bulk composition is investigated by using a spectrometer to view the heated spot through the ejected material. Spatial composition maps could be created by scanning the surface. Applying the beam to a single spot continuously produces a borehole, and shallow sub-surface composition profiling is also possible. Initial simulations of absorption profiles with laser heating show great promise for molecular composition analysis.
© (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Gary B. Hughes, Gary B. Hughes, Philip Lubin, Philip Lubin, Peter Meinhold, Peter Meinhold, Hugh O'Neill, Hugh O'Neill, Travis Brashears, Travis Brashears, Qicheng Zhang, Qicheng Zhang, Janelle Griswold, Janelle Griswold, Jordan Riley, Jordan Riley, Caio Motta, Caio Motta, } "Stand-off molecular composition analysis", Proc. SPIE 9616, Nanophotonics and Macrophotonics for Space Environments IX, 961603 (1 September 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2186795; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2186795
PROCEEDINGS
12 PAGES


SHARE
RELATED CONTENT

Remote laser evaporative molecular absorption spectroscopy
Proceedings of SPIE (September 18 2016)
Single-aperture far-infrared observatory (SAFIR)
Proceedings of SPIE (March 04 2003)
Detection and spectroscopy of exo-planets like Earth
Proceedings of SPIE (March 20 1997)
Galaxies at high redshift: progress and prospects
Proceedings of SPIE (June 28 2000)
Reversion radial velocity (REVRAVEL) a new principle for a...
Proceedings of SPIE (September 29 1994)

Back to Top