Technology from a company with a location at the Purdue Research Park will be used during a 2018 mission to Mars. Wasatch Photonics Inc. makes optical imaging products that will be used in studying surface samples.

January 13, 2014

News Release

West Lafayette, Ind., Logan, Utah, Durham, N.C. and Madrid — Technology from Wasatch Photonics Inc., an optical imaging company, will be used to help meet the technological and scientific objectives of a mission to Mars.

Madrid-based Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial, a public research organization specializing in aerospace research and technology development, will contribute to the ExoMars mission in 2018, with an instrument that uses Raman spectroscopy. The mission is led by the European Space Agency with contributions from Russia. Its objectives are detecting possible evidence of past or present life on Mars, and to garner insights into the history of water on the planet.

“To accomplish this task, surface samples of Mars are to be studied using a spectrometer. Wasatch Photonics manufactures high-performance, Volume Phase, Holographic Gratings that are used to create this spectrometer,” said Gerald Heidt, CEO of Wasatch Photonics. “Our proprietary gratings offer low polarization dependence, high dispersion and high diffraction efficiencies. With the grating, we are able to create a high throughput spectrometer with the lowest limit of detection.”

The Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial will use this technology on a compact, yet highly efficient Raman spectrometer instrument for the mission. Fernando Rull is the principal investigator for this project.

Once on Mars' surface, a drill in the ExoMars rover will collect samples up to two meters beneath the Martian surface. The samples will be crushed into a fine powder and studied inside the rover's analytical laboratory.

“The Raman laser spectrometer will analyze these samples, obtaining information about their mineralogy and chemical composition, and detect possible organic compounds,” Heidt said.

Wasatch Photonics headquarters are in Logan, Utah. It also has locations in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette in Indiana.

About Wasatch Photonics Inc.

Founded in 2002, Wasatch Photonics Inc. designs, manufactures and markets high-performance Raman spectrometers, Optical Coherence Tomography systems, and enhanced holographic optics for optical networking, spectroscopy, test and measurement, and medical imaging applications. Their high-performance Volume Holographic Optic Elements and gratings are used in a diverse set of industries, including those in the defense and security, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceutical, medical, energy, education, computer, and electronics markets. Their products are based on proprietary holographic recording media and processing technologies.

About Purdue Research Park

The Purdue Research Park, with four locations across Indiana, has the largest university-affiliated business incubation complex in the country. The park network is home to about 240 companies that employ about 4,500 people and are located in West Lafayette, Indianapolis, Merrillville and New Albany.

Source: Purdue Research Park

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