Mass spectrometry has been widely used in lander missions to characterize the volatiles in rocks and soils on planetary surfaces. A good vacuum seal is very important for introducing such solid samples to a vacuum chamber and ejecting them. However, multiple measurements require many metal gaskets, leading to extra weight and complexity for the instruments. In this study, we investigate the capability of three kinds of elastomeric O-rings (Viton, Nexus-SLT, and Nexus-FV) as vacuum seals for mass spectrometric measurements, particularly for in situ K–Ar dating on Mars. First, thermal cycle tests revealed that low-temperature-resistant O-rings can maintain pressure <10 −5 Pa at −60 °C under 1 bar ambient pressure, whereas Viton O-rings leaked at −25 °C. Then, the amount of 40 Ar due to outgassing from the O-rings and permeation under the ambient pressure of 650 Pa or 3 Pa was measured and compared with the amounts of 40 Ar that a flight-equivalent laser would liberate from potential target Martian rocks. The measured amounts were <1% of that a target rock with 5000 ppm K 2 O and an age of 4.2 Ga would yield. These results suggest that a Viton O-ring can maintain the Ar blank low under the Mars atmospheric pressure when temperatures are higher than −25 °C. A double O-ring seal using the low-temperature-resistant elastomers would be an alternative approach at lower temperatures. The elastomeric O-rings would be useful for constructing a small and light-weighted mass spectrometric instrument for in situ K–Ar dating on Mars.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aerospace Engineering
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Atmospheric Science
- Space and Planetary Science
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)