One last time on Earth it has been turned on in France in December 2019. The next time the MOMA laser developed by the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) is going into operation will be on Mars. The ExoMars rover into which the laser is integrated has now successfully passed the thermal vacuum tests at Airbus in Toulouse, France.
For 18 days the ExoMars rover Rosalind Franklin was subjected to thermal vacuum tests at Airbus. There, it had to withstand strong changes in temperature and vacuum. The tests at Airbus imitate the conditions on Mars and simulate two hot and two cold Mars days. These so-called sols last approximately 24 hours.
Searching for traces of life
The LZH laser is a central component of the Mars Organic Mole-cule Analyzer (MOMA) measuring instrument, which is installed in the rover’s Analytical Lab Drawer (ALD). The MOMA laser is supposed to bring soil samples into gas phase on Mars. The probe will then be analyzed with a mass spectrometer to ex-amine the sample’s molecular composition. If the rover were to find organic molecules, it could be an indication of past life on Mars.