Miniature laser system developed for interplanetary observations

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Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH), in cooperation with instrumentation specialist Hoerner & Sulger, has developed a miniaturised laser system, well suited to use in space. The compact prototype, consisting of a laser head and electronics, is lightweight at 187g. The laser system can be used in a laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) in order to explore planetary surfaces. LIBS is an analytical method that 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. The device is robust enough to withstand the conditions of an interplanetary flight. The miniaturised system can also be used on earth, for instance, to analyse material in harsh environments. The Institute of Planetology at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster commissioned the development of the laser system, and the German Aerospace Center funded it.