LIBS Operation on Venus

One of the great advantages of LIBS is that it can operate in hostile environments where other techniques cannot even be attempted.  However, one of the environmental variables that affects LIBS is the atmospheric pressure.  The Venus atmosphere, at ~90 Bars, represents a pressure regime for which LIBS had not been previously tested.  Experiments were recently undertaken at Los Alamos to determine the feasibility of LIBS under the atmospheric conditions of Venus.  The results are currently being prepared for publication.  As envisioned, a LIBS instrument on a Venus probe would operate through a thick window, using a mirror to optically acquire different samples within the vicinity of the lander.  Because of the speed of a LIBS measurement (<1 minute/sample) for an instrument envisioned for Venus, many independent analyses could be conducted during the limited lifetime of a Venus lander.


Pictures of Venus' surface taken by radar imaging equipment on the Magellan spacecraft which orbited Venus from 1990-1994 . The left picture shows a group of volcanoes, the middle picture is a volcano which appears to have sank in the hot magma below it, and the right picture show mysterious volcanoes on the planet's surface.  Images courtesy of NASA/ JPL operated by the California Institute of Technology

Images of the Venera 14 landing site.  The images range from the base of the lander to about one meter distant at the center of the image to the horizon at the
extreme edges.  Images courtesy of NASA and the NSDC (National Space Science Data Center)