Mass Spectrometer

:: the mass spectrometer

The crucial experimental package contains the mass spectrometer which will analyse samples for evidence of the chemical signatures of biological processes - was there life on Mars ?

GAP- the Gas Analysis Package has several components:

The facility for heating a solid sample (soil or rock) in steps of increasing temperature, each increment being supplied with freshly generated oxygen - ANY carbon compound present will burn to give carbon dioxide.

Handling of the gas generated at each temperature step and delivery to the mass spectrometer.

The mass spectrometer itself which can detect and measure the amount of carbon dioxide released on burning the samples.

The instrument can distinguish between the two stable isotopes of the carbon and quantify the ratio. Other gases can be analysed by the same instrument including nitrogen and methane.

The design for Beagle 2's mass spectrometer is a 90 degree sector instrument having a magnet of less than 1 kg made from a rare earth metal alloy and an ion pump using the same material. It will embody the principle of the dual inlet whereby light element samples and standards are sequentially compared for high precision isotopic measurements and operate in static vacuum mode for greatest sensitivity.