Miniaturized Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope for In Situ Planetary Studies
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- The exploration of remote planetary surfaces calls for the advancement of low power, highly-miniaturized instrumentation. Instruments of this nature that are capable of multiple types of analyses will prove to be particularly useful as we prepare for human return to the moon, and as we continue to explore increasingly remote locations in our Solar System. To this end, our group has been developing a miniaturized Environmental-Scanning Electron Microscope (mESEM) capable of remote investigations of mineralogical samples through in-situ topographical and chemical analysis on a fine scale. The functioning of an SEM is well known: an electron beam is focused to nanometer-scale onto a given sample where resulting emissions such as backscattered and secondary electrons, X-rays, and visible light are registered. Raster scanning the primary electron beam across the sample then gives a fine-scale image of the surface topography (texture), crystalline structure and orientation, with accompanying elemental composition. The flexibility in the types of measurements the mESEM is capable of, makes it ideally suited for a variety of applications. The mESEM is appropriate for use on multiple planetary surfaces, and for a variety of mission goals (from science to non-destructive analysis to ISRU). We will identify potential applications and range of potential uses related to planetary exploration. Over the past few of years we have initiated fabrication and testing of a proof-of-concept assembly, consisting of a cold-field-emission electron gun and custom high-voltage power supply, electrostatic electron-beam focusing column, and scanning-imaging electronics plus backscatter detector. Current project status will be discussed. This effort is funded through the NASA Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences - Planetary Instrument Definition and Development Program.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20100017162.
Earth and Space 2010; 14-17 Mar. 2010; Honolulu, HI; United States.
- Copyright, Distribution as joint owner in the copyright.
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