A large part of our knowledge of surface composition and structure of solid planetary surfaces is based on infrared remote sensing techniques. These techniques allow mineralogical composition analyses, measurement of surface temperature, thermal inertia, and photometric observation of surface regolith texture. All interpretation of remote sensing data relies on a solid groundwork of laboratory analogue studies, ideally performed under realistic surface conditions. This is of special importance for airless bodies that experience large temperature variations during day/night cycles as well as during seasonal cycles.
The Planetary Spectroscopy Laboratory (PSL) at DLR is the only spectroscopic infrastructure in the world that offers the capability to measure emissivity of powder materials, in air or in vacuum, from low to very high temperatures, over an extended spectral range. Emissivity measurements are complimented by reflectance and transmittance measurements produced simultaneously with the same setup. The facility allows performing spectroscopy simulating surfaces for all the kind of planets, moons and minor bodies whose surface temperature are above 0°C. It is the ground reference laboratory for the MERTIS thermal infrared spectral imager on the ESA BepiColombo mission. Members of the PSL group are team members of the MarsExpress, VenusExpress, MESSENGER and JAXA Hayabusa 2 missions. For the latter mission PSL has performed ground calibration measurements. PSL also performs measurements for industry on optical components of space instruments (entrance windows, filters), and materials for industrial uses (3D-printing, ceramics).
In a climate-controlled environment PSL operates currently three Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) spectrometers, equipped with internal and external chambers, to measure emittance, transmittance and reflectance of powdered or solid samples in the wavelength range from 0.3 to beyond 100 micron. Our unique Planetary Emissivity Laboratory (PEL) setup allows obtaining emissivity measurements under vacuum and nitrogen purging at sample temperatures up to 1000°C.
A sample preparation facility and an extensive collection of analog materials complement the laboratory facilities. Samples can be prepared in many ways, to match the wide range of techniques offered at PSL. This includes producing grain size fractions as well as pressed pellets. Microscopy as well as XRD analysis is used to characterize the samples before and after preparation.
This laboratory has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.
This laboratory is a Transnational Access facility in the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) and previously Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI).