Enabling the Next Generation of Spaceborne Quadrupole Mass Spectrometers

Gershman, D. J.; Rubin, Martin; Block, B. P.; Benna, M.; Mahaffy, P. R.; Zurbuchen, T. H. (2012). Enabling the Next Generation of Spaceborne Quadrupole Mass Spectrometers. In: Thirteenth ASCE Aerospace Division Conference on Engineering, Science, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments, and the 5th NASA/ASCE Workshop On Granular Materials in Space Exploration (pp. 393-402). Reston, VA: American Society of Civil Engineers 10.1061/9780784412190.043

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The quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS) has over 30 years of spaceflight heritage in making important neutral gas and low energy ion observations. Given their geometrical constraints, these instruments are currently operated at the extreme limit of their capabilities. However, a technique called higher order auxiliary excitation provides a set of novel, robust, electronics-based solutions for improving the performance of these sensors. By driving the quadrupole rods with an additional frequency nearly twice that of the normal RF operating frequency, substantially increased abundance sensitivity, maximum attainable mass resolution, and peak stability can be achieved through operation of voltage scan lines through the center of formed upper stability islands. Such improvements are modeled using numerical simulations of ion trajectories in a quadrupole field with and without applied higher order auxiliary excitation. When compared to a traditional QMS with a mass range up to 500Da, sensors can be designed with the same precision electronics to have expected mass ranges beyond 1500Da with a power increase of less than twice that of its heritage implementations.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Rubin, Martin


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




American Society of Civil Engineers




Martin Rubin

Date Deposited:

17 May 2016 17:58

Last Modified:

13 Oct 2017 08:30

Publisher DOI:






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