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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

29 - Elemental Analyses of Mars from Rovers with Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy by ChemCam and SuperCam

from Part IV - Applications to Planetary Surfaces


The first Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument for extraterrestrial applications is part of the ChemCam instrument suite onboard the Curiosity Mars rover. ChemCam may be used in a number of operational modes depending on the science questions of interest, including active (with laser) and passive (spectrometers only) modes, and there is important synergy between ChemCam and other payload instruments. Notable discoveries made with ChemCam LIBS data include the characterization of hydrogen in rocks and soils, discovery of boron on Mars, and characterization of other trace elements (Li, F, Rb, Sr, Ba) that were previously never or rarely quantified on Mars, depth-dependent chemical trends on rock surfaces, and a much broader range of bulk-rock chemical compositions than was previously recognized, including highly evolved igneous rocks. In addition to ChemCam, another LIBS instrument is slated to fly to Mars on the Mars 2020 rover mission as part of the combined Raman-LIBS SuperCam instrument.

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