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

8 - Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

from Part I - Theory of Remote Compositional Analysis Techniques and Laboratory Measurements


Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) is the remote elemental analysis technique used by the ChemCam instrument on the Curiosity rover. LIBS involves remotely ablating material from rocks and soils with a focused high-energy laser, which generates an optically excited plasma from which the elements in the rock or soil sample are quantitatively determined. The LIBS technique offers many advantages for remote chemical analysis. LIBS provides very rapid analyses without the need for any sample preparation. LIBS is capable of detecting all elements present above the detection limits independent of the atomic mass. LIBS quantitative analysis continues to evolve and produce accurate compositions with decreasing uncertainties. Furthermore, the matrix effects that tend to complicate most elemental analysis techniques like LIBS are increasingly exploited to extract more sample details. The focus of this chapter is to describe the current state of LIBS chemical analysis for remote planetary science.

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