Guiding Ions Home (image) DOE/Idaho National Laboratory Caption The next generation of Mars rovers will use mass spectrometers to search for signs of life, such as amino acids, on the Red Planet. Most current mass spectrometers rely heavily on airflow to guide ionized soil samples through an inlet, down a channel and into a trap for analysis. But this system is less than ideal for Mars missions like ExoMars, due to launch in 2018: airflow requires pumps, and pumps are heavy and energy-hungry. INL's new technology guides ions efficiently using versatile, complex electric fields. The invention could greatly reduce the need for pumps, helping make ExoMars' life-detecting tools smaller, cheaper and more sensitive. Credit Idaho National Laboratory Usage Restrictions If this image is used or reproduced, credit must be given to Idaho National Laboratory. Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.