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Elemental Mass Spectroscopy of Remote Surfaces from Laser-Induced Plasmas

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The elemental mass analysis of laser-produced ions from Al, Cu, Ge, Ag, and a lunar simulant target when irradiated by a 400-mJ, 8-ns, Nd: YAG laser at 1 × 109 W/cm2 is reported. Ions traveled down a 11.1-m evacuated tube to an ion-trap 1-m time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer where an elemental mass spectrum was recorded. The amount of target material removed per laser pulse and the ionization fraction were also measured. The ion spatial distribution was measured at 11.1-m distance and found to be near a fourth-power cosine distribution. These results indicate the ability to mass analyze a surface over a distance of many kilometers for lunar and asteroid surface elemental mass analysis by a remote satellite or lunar rover.

Keywords: Analysis of solids; Laser ablation; Mass spectroscopy; Remote laser mass spectroscopy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia 23681-0001 2: Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529

Publication date: November 1, 1994

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