Mars Organic Molecules Analyser (MOMA) is an experiment on the rover mission ExoMars/Pasteur (European Space Agency). It is the responsibility of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS, Lindau, Germany). MOMA, result of a European and American cooperation, combines 3 complementary analytical instruments designed to provide molecular, elementary, chiral chemistry and isotope of surface/subsurface of Mars :
These instruments are :
i) mass spectrometer (MS) developed by a US consortium under responsibility of the NASA/GSFC (Maryland, USA) center
ii) a system of desorption (LD) laser developed by German colleagues.
iii) agas chromatograph (GC) developed jointly by laboratory atmospheres, environments, space observations (LATMOS) and laboratory Inter-University of atmospheric systems (LISA) under the aegis of the National Centre for space studies (CNES).
This instrumental ensemble is primarily dedicated for clues of possible life on Mars (or prebiotic activity). It's mainly to search for and then characterize organic molecules (molecules needed for life as we know) that may be found in the soil of Mars. It should also allow to inform the possible origin of the methane recently detected in the atmosphere of Mars, and which could theoretically be produced by "methanogenic" organizations.
The MOMA instrument is designed to analyze soil and Martian rocks according to two main approaches. First the crushed sample may be placed in one of the mini ovens of the MOMA instrument, equipped with a rotating carousel. After this filling the ovenis moved to a "tapping station", sealing the oven. Heated up to 900 ° C, the ovensees many compounds of the ground it volatilizes. These volatile species is then blended by a flow of helium to gas chromatograph (GC). After their separation and potential identification by the GC, compounds penetrate into a mass spectrometer (MS)... This mode of analysis is the GC - MS instrument mode.
Another option is that a refillable container (tray sample) can be filled with ground floor or a piece of rock sample. In this case, aNd: YAG laser is used to desorb and ionize a minimal surface of the sample. Generated ions are then guided towards the mass for analysis spectrometer. This is the mode LD - MS instrument.
Power take-off in 2018 for 9 months later arrival on Mars !
Figure 1: Principle of operation of MOMA, to visualize different couplings between the instruments/subsystems.
The page of the instrument to the MPS Lindau : http://www.mps.mpg.de/en/projekte/exomars/moma/