Compact Laser System for the Exploration of Planetary Surfaces
The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed, in cooperation with the Hoerner & Sulger GmbH, a miniaturized laser system which is especially apt for the service in space. The prototype consisting of a laser head and electronics is extremely compact and weighs only 187 g. The laser system can be used in a so called "Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy" (LIBS) in order to explore planetary surfaces. LIBS is an analytical method which can determine the distribution of elements on the surfaces of planets in order to find out about existing types of materials on each spot.
In addition, the laser has potential for further weight reduction. Since it is constructed for environmental conditions as they are during the interplanetary flight phase, it is very robust. The miniaturized system can also be used on earth, for instance, to analyze material under extremely harsh conditions.
The group "Space Technologies" at the LZH works on different projects for the development of space-based laser systems. The company von Hoerner & Sulger GmbH (Schwetzingen) is specialized in the development of miniaturized instruments and systems for space missions. The development of the solid-state laser systems has been commissioned by the Institute of Planetology at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster and is financed by the German Aerospace Center.
Source: Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH)