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Proceedings Paper

MEMS-based micro instruments for in-situ planetary exploration (Keynote Paper)
Author(s): T. George; E. Urgiles; R. Toda; J. Z. Wilcox; S. Douglas; C.-S. Lee; K. Son; D. Miller; N. Myung; L. Madsen; G. Leskowitz; R. El-Gammal; D. Weitekamp
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Paper Abstract

NASA's planetary exploration strategy is primarily targeted to the detection of extant or extinct signs of life. Thus, the agency is moving towards more in-situ landed missions as evidenced by the recent, successful demonstration of twin Mars Exploration Rovers. Also, future robotic exploration platforms are expected to evolve towards sophisticated analytical laboratories composed of multi-instrument suites. MEMS technology is very attractive for in-situ planetary exploration because of the promise of a diverse and capable set of advanced, low mass and low-power devices and instruments. At JPL, we are exploiting this diversity of MEMS for the development of a new class of miniaturized instruments for planetary exploration. In particular, two examples of this approach are the development of an Electron Luminescence X-ray Spectrometer (ELXS), and a Force-Detected Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (FDNMR) Spectrometer. The ELXS is a compact (< 1 kg) electron-beam based microinstrument that can determine the chemical composition of samples in air via electron-excited x-ray fluorescence and cathodoluminescence. The enabling technology is a 200-nm-thick, MEMS-fabricated silicon nitride membrane that encapsulates the evacuated electron column while yet being thin enough to allow electron transmission into the ambient atmosphere. The MEMS FDNMR spectrometer, at 2-mm diameter, will be the smallest NMR spectrometer in the world. The significant innovation in this technology is the ability to immerse the sample in a homogenous, uniform magnetic field required for high-resolution NMR spectroscopy. The NMR signal is detected using the principle of modulated dipole-dipole interaction between the sample's nuclear magnetic moment and a 60-micron-diameter detector magnet. Finally, the future development path for both of these technologies, culminating ultimately in infusion into space missions, is discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 July 2005
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 5836, Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS II, (1 July 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.608381
Show Author Affiliations
T. George, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
E. Urgiles, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
R. Toda, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
J. Z. Wilcox, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
S. Douglas, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
C.-S. Lee, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
K. Son, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
D. Miller, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
N. Myung, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
L. Madsen, California Institute of Technology (United States)
G. Leskowitz, California Institute of Technology (United States)
R. El-Gammal, California Institute of Technology (United States)
D. Weitekamp, California Institute of Technology (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5836:
Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS II
Carles Cane; Jung-Chih Chiao; Fernando Vidal Verdu, Editor(s)

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