Volatile analysis by pyrolysis of regolith for planetary resource exploration

Daniel P. Glavin, Charles Malespin, Inge L. Ten Kate, Stephanie A. Getty, Vincent E. Holmes, Erik Mumm, Heather B. Franz, Marvin Noreiga, Nick Dobson, Adrian E. Southard, Steven H. Feng, Carl A. Kotecki, Jason P. Dworkin, Timothy D. Swindle, Jacob E. Bleacher, James W. Rice, Paul R. Mahaffy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations


The extraction and identification of volatile resources that could be utilized by humans including water, oxygen, noble gases, and hydrocarbons on the Moon, Mars, and small planetary bodies will be critical for future long-term human exploration of these objects. Vacuum pyrolysis at elevated temperatures has been shown to be an efficient way to release volatiles trapped inside solid samples. In order to maximize the extraction of volatiles, including oxygen and noble gases from the breakdown of minerals, a pyrolysis temperature of 1400°C or higher is required, which greatly exceeds the maximum temperatures of current state-of-the-art flight pyrolysis instruments. Here we report on the recent optimization and field testing results of a high temperature pyrolysis oven and sample manipulation system coupled to a mass spectrometer instrument called Volatile Analysis by Pyrolysis of Regolith (VAPoR). VAPoR is capable of heating solid samples under vacuum to temperatures above 1300°C and determining the composition of volatiles released as a function of temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference
StatePublished - 2012
Event2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference - Big Sky, MT, United States
Duration: Mar 3 2012Mar 10 2012

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Other2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky, MT


  • Desert Research And Technology Studies (DRATS)
  • Evolved gas analysis
  • Lunar volatiles
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Planetary science
  • Resource utilization
  • Vacuum pyrolysis
  • Volatile Analysis by Pyrolysis of Regolith (VAPoR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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