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Near Infrared Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy for Isotopic Analyses of CH4 on Future Martian Surface MissionsA compact Near Infrared Continuous Wave Cavity Ring-Down Spectrometer (near-IR-cw-CRDS) was developed as a candidate for future planetary surface missions. The optical cavity was made of titanium with rugged quartz windows to protect the delicate super cavity from the harsh environmental changes that it would experience during space flight and a Martian surface mission. This design assured the long-term stability of the system. The system applied three distributed feedback laser diodes (DFB-LD), two of which were tuned to the absorption line peaks of (sup 12)CH4 and (sup 13)CH4 at 6046.954 inverse centimeters and 6049.121 inverse centimeters, respectively. The third laser was tuned to a spectral-lines-free region for measuring the baseline cavity loss. The multiple laser design compensated for typical baseline drift of a CRDS system and, thus, improved the overall precision. A semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) was used instead of an Acousto-Optic Module (AOM) to initiate the cavity ring-down events. It maintained high acquisition rates such as AOM, but consumed less power. High data acquisition rates combined with improved long-term stability yielded precise isotopic measurements in this near-IR region even though the strongest CH4 absorption line in this region is 140 times weaker than that of the strongest mid-IR absorption band. The current system has a detection limit of 1.4 times 10( sup –12) inverse centimeters for (sup 13)CH4. This limit corresponds to approximately 7 parts per trillion volume of CH4 at 100 Torrs. With no further improvements the detection limit of our current near IR-cw-CRDS at an ambient Martian pressure of approximately 6 Torrs (8 millibars) would be 0.25 parts per billion volume for one 3.3 minute long analysis.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Chen, Y. (Princeton Univ. Princeton, NJ, United States)
Mahaffy P. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Holmes, V. (Beacon Systems, Inc. Washington, DC, United States)
Burris, J. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Morey, P. (Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. Lanham, MD, United States)
Lehmann, K.K. (Virginia Univ. Charlottesville, VA, United States)
Lollar, B. Sherwood (Toronto Univ. Ontario, Canada)
Lacrampe-Couloume, G. (Toronto Univ. Ontario, Canada)
Onstott, T.C. (Princeton Univ. Princeton, NJ, United States)
Date Acquired
May 4, 2016
Publication Date
November 26, 2014
Publication Information
Publication: Planetary and Space Science
Volume: 105
Subject Category
Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
portable nir crds
Mars sciences
methane isotope