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Journal Articles Space Science Reviews Year : 2002

The Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer for the Huygens Probe


The Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) on the Huygens Probe will measure the chemical composition of Titan's atmosphere from 170 km altitude (∼1 hPa) to the surface (∼1500 hPa) and determine the isotope ratios of the major gaseous constituents. The GCMS will also analyze gas samples from the Aerosol Collector Pyrolyser (ACP) and may be able to investigate the composition (including isotope ratios) of several candidate surface materials. The GCMS is a quadrupole mass filter with a secondary electron multiplier detection system and a gas sampling system providing continuous direct atmospheric composition measurements and batch sampling through three gas chromatographic (GC) columns. The mass spectrometer employs five ion sources sequentially feeding the mass analyzer. Three ion sources serve as detectors for the GC columns and two are dedicated to direct atmosphere sampling and ACP gas sampling respectively. The instrument is also equipped with a chemical scrubber cell for noble gas analysis and a sample enrichment cell for selective measurement of high boiling point carbon containing constituents. The mass range is 2 to 141 Dalton and the nominal detection threshold is at a mixing ratio of 10− 8. The data rate available from the Probe system is 885 bit/s. The weight of the instrument is 17.3 kg and the energy required for warm up and 150 minutes of operation is 110 Watt-hours.

Dates and versions

insu-03588427 , version 1 (24-02-2022)



H.B. Niemann, S.K. Atreya, S.J. Bauer, K. Biemann, B. Block, et al.. The Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer for the Huygens Probe. Space Science Reviews, 2002, 104 (1/4), pp.553-591. ⟨10.1023/A:1023680305259⟩. ⟨insu-03588427⟩
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