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Water Experiment Detector
Water Detection Assembly

Motor / Drill Assembly
Motor and Drill Assembly for Capturing a Soil Sample


  • Subsurface sample collected after impact - Micromotor drives microdrill out of probe forebody after impact. Tailings from the drill (<100 milligrams or 1/250th of an ounce) fall into a chamber which is then sealed.
  • Water ice detection - The sample chamber is heated, turning any water ice in the soil into water vapor. A small tunable diode laser emits a beam of light through the vapor to a detector. If water vapor is present, it will absorb some of the light.
  • Very low power: 1.5 watts peak power during operation
  • Very small and lightweight: The sample collection system is about 11 cubic centimeters (1 cubic inch) and weighs less than 50 grams (1.6 ounce). The instrument electronics are about 4.8 cubic centimeters (1/3 cubic inch) and weights less than 10 grams (1/3 ounce). The tunable diode laser assembly is about 0.3 cubic centimeters (1/50th cubic inch) and weighs less than 1 gram (1/30th ounce).
  • Capable of surviving high shock (<30,000 Gs) and low temperatures (> -120 °C or -184 °F).
  • Instrument electronics built using chip-on-board packaging.

Why is it exciting?

  • Demonstrates penetrator-based subsurface geochemistry capability
  • Extendable to quantitative analysis of water and other volatiles
  • Addresses high science priorities for Mars

Who needs it?

  • Mars program and other planetary missions
  • Subsurface evolved gas and atmospheric analysis experiments, including organics


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This page last updated: October 29, 1999
For comments and suggestions, or to request
additional information please contact:
Deep Space 2 Outreach and Education
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Avenue
M/S 301-235
Pasadena, CA 91109