COSIMA V - Ion Emitters for COSIMA / ROSETTA V

ARC Seibersdorf research GmbH was selected to develop and produce ion emitters for the experiment COSIMA (CometarySecondary Ion Mass Analyser). Scope of this experiment is to analyse cometary matter e. g. to find out what molecules existed shortly after the "big bang". There may be molecules, composed of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, which might build blocks of amino acids, the basic molecules of life.

Short Description

The name "Rosetta" derives from the famous stone document found by Napoleon’s troops, which enabled scientists to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphics.


A Time-Of-Flight (TOF) mass spectrometer was chosen for this mission, to provide high mass resolution (that enables us to discern between atoms and molecules) without losing any material (all target atoms hitting the collector of the TOF are counted).

To use a high resolution mass spectrometer of TOF design requires a monoisotopic ion gun with chopper and buncher facilities. This ion gun produces a beam of In 115 ions (monoistopic). We achieved a first TOF – SIMS Spectrum in space (PI: Dr. Jochen Kissel). For parallel tests to the already launched experiment additional ion sources are required.


After having approached the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko the Rosetta orbiter will dispatch a robotic lander for the first controlled touchdown on a comet nucleus. The spacecraft itself will circle around the comet in a cylindrical path and collect and analyse particles in the vicinity of the comet.

Final Results

Approach to the comet is scheduled for the period from January to May 2014. This imposes another problem on spacecrafts: All systems have to stay alive and work again after they have not been used for several years. This means that all experiments will be exposed to cosmic rays for a very long time.

Project Partners


ARC Seibersdorf research GmbH - Wolfgang Steiger (Space Propulsion)

Contact Address

ARC Seibersdorf research GmbH
Wolfgang Steiger (Space Propulsion)
A-2444 Seibersdorf