The identification and characterization of molecular biomarkers using mass spectrometry on an orbiting or fly-by spacecraft is one of the preferred analytical techniques in the search for life beyond the Earth. However, analysis is complicated by unwanted molecular dissociation occurring when sampled native molecules impact the instrument at high velocity. The mechanisms of chemical changes produced in high velocity impacts have been studied experimentally in some cases; however, there are significant experimental limitations to these techniques. Here I present the design, construction, and testing of a new experimental technique to produce high velocity molecular and microparticle collisions under a controlled lab setting using a high-speed spinning rotor. Chapter 1 of this manuscript gives a scientific review of the astrobiological importance of this project for future and current space missions as well as describing previous techniques used to produced hypervelocity impacts and their limitations. Chapter 2 presents the design, construction, calibration, and preliminary experiments of the new technique involving the high-speed rotor. Chapter 3 describes the fabrication of a molecular beam system from the ground up to be coupled with the high-speed rotor. Chapter 4, describes future project directions and presents future experiments using the rotor as a stand-alone instrument. Lastly, the appendix contains the standard operation procedures and design notes regarding the operation of these two instruments.
College and Department
Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
De la Cruz Hernandez, Abraham Lehi, "Experimental Design and Construction of the First Rotor Induced Collision Cell (RICC) for Studying High Velocity Molecular Impacts" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9696.
astrobiology, space sampling, high velocity impacts, high speed rotor, molecular beam