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Journal Articles Journal of Chromatography A Year : 2000

Gas chromatography for in situ analysis of a cometary nucleus


Considering the severe constraints of space instrumentation, a great improvement for the in situ gas chromatographic (GC) determination of permanent and noble gases in a cometary nucleus is the use of a new carbon molecular sieve porous layer open tubular (PLOT) column called Carbobond. No exhaustive data dealing with this column being available, studies were carried out to entirely characterize its analytical performances, especially when used under the operating conditions of the cometary sampling and composition (COSAC) experiment of the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta space mission to be launched in 2003 for a rendezvous with comet 46 P/Wirtanen in 2011. The high efficiency and speed of analysis of this column at both atmospheric and vacuum outlet column pressure is demonstrated, and the kinetic mass transfer contribution of this carbon molecular sieve adsorbent is calculated. Besides, differential adsorption enthalpies of several gases and light hydrocarbons were determined from the variation of retention volume with temperature. The data indicate close adsorption behaviors on the Carbobond porous layer adsorbent and on the carbon molecular sieve Carboxen support used to prepare the packed columns. Moreover, taking into account the in situ operating conditions of the experiment, a study of two columns with different porous layer thicknesses allowed one to optimize the separation of the target components and to select the column parameters compatible with the instrument constraints. Comparison with columns of similar selectivity shows that these capillary columns are the first ones able to perform the same work as the packed and micro-packed columns dedicated to the separation of this range of compounds in GC space exploration.

Dates and versions

insu-02263150 , version 1 (03-08-2019)



Cyril Szopa, R. Sternberg, David Coscia, François Raulin, C. Vidal-Madjar. Gas chromatography for in situ analysis of a cometary nucleus. Journal of Chromatography A, 2000, 904 (1), pp.73-85. ⟨10.1016/S0021-9673(00)00910-9⟩. ⟨insu-02263150⟩
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