In this paper we show that with our new mass spectrometry system we can detect very low abundances of organic molecules. To be precise - in the femtomole/mm-2 range - which is a billionth of a millionth (10-15) of a mole (however, it’s still quite a lot of molecules!)

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In this paper we present:

  • a description of a novel analytical technique for the detection of extremely low concentrations of amino acids called ORIGIN, a compact and lightweight laser desorption ionization – mass spectrometer designed and developed for in situ space exploration missions.
  • a detection limit of a few fmol mm−2, and the possibility for sub-fmol detection sensitivity, this measurement technique excels current space exploration systems by three orders of magnitude.
  • demonstrate that ORIGIN is a promising instrument for the detection of signatures of life and ready for upcoming space missions, such as the Europa Lander