The ORIGIN Space Instrument for Detecting Biosignatures and Habitability Indicators on a Venus Life Finder Mission

Ligterink, Niels F W; Kipfer, Kristina A; Gruchola, Salome; Boeren, Nikita J; Keresztes Schmidt, Peter; de Koning, Coenraad P; Tulej, Marek; Wurz, Peter; Riedo, Andreas (2022). The ORIGIN Space Instrument for Detecting Biosignatures and Habitability Indicators on a Venus Life Finder Mission. Aerospace, 9(6), p. 312. MDPI 10.3390/aerospace9060312

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Recent and past observations of chemical and physical peculiarities in the atmosphere
of Venus have renewed speculations about the existence of life in its clouds. To find signs of
Venusian life, a dedicated astrobiological space exploration mission is required, and for this reason
the Venus Life Finder mission is currently being prepared. A Venus Life Finder mission will require
dedicated and specialized instruments to hunt for biosignatures and habitability indicators. In this
contribution, we present the ORIGIN space instrument, a laser desorption/laser ablation ionization
mass spectrometer. This instrument is designed to detect large, non-volatile molecules, specifically
biomolecules such as amino acids and lipids. At the same time, it can also be used in ablation mode for
elemental composition analysis. Recent studies with this space prototype instrument of amino acids,
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, lipids, salts, metals, sulphur isotopes, and microbial elemental
composition are discussed in the context of studies of biosignatures and habitability indicators
in Venus’s atmosphere. The implementation of the ORIGIN instrument into a Venus Life Finder
mission is discussed, emphasizing the low weight and low power consumption of the instrument.
An instrument design and sample handling system are presented that make optimal use of the
capabilities of this instrument. ORIGIN is a highly versatile instrument with proven capabilities to
investigate and potentially resolve many of the outstanding questions about the atmosphere of Venus
and the presence of life in its clouds.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > NCCR PlanetS

UniBE Contributor:

Ligterink, Niels Frank Willem, Kipfer, Kristina Anna, Gruchola, Salome Noemi, Boeren, Nikita Jennifer, Keresztes Schmidt, Peter, de Koning, Coenraad Pieter, Tulej, Marek, Wurz, Peter, Riedo, Andreas


000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
500 Science > 520 Astronomy
500 Science > 530 Physics
600 Technology > 620 Engineering








Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2022 14:10

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:22

Publisher DOI:





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