“Exploring Mars Mineralogy and Geology Using In Situ X-Ray Diffraction”
Dr. Roberta Flemming
Earth Sciences and Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration
University of Western Ontario
To understand the evolution of Mars, we need to study its minerals. There is a mineralogical record of Mars geological processes, impact history, climate (e.g., the history of water on Mars) and habitability. Several instruments have been flown on space missions to examine the mineralogy of Mars, including orbiters, landers, and rovers. Several rover-based instruments measure chemical information from the rocks (such as the APXS on MER and Curiosity rovers), but chemical composition alone does not provide a complete picture of the history of the rocks. X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) is the primary technique to determine the mineralogy of rocks and other natural materials. XRD is currently being used on Mars with the CheMin instrument on NASA’s Curiosity rover, however, the CheMin technique crushes the rock to a powder, which destroys the original information about the relationship between the minerals in the rock. A team from Western, Brock, and Guelph universities, along with Canadian companies PROTO and MDA are developing a concept for a miniaturized in situ XRD (ISXRD) which will be able ...