Missions to Mars: Characterization of Mars analogue rocks for the International Space Analogue Rockstore (ISAR)

Abstract : Instruments for surface missions to extraterrestrial bodies should be cross-calibrated using a common suite of relevant materials. Such work is necessary to improve instrument performance and aids in the interpretation of in-situ measurements. At the CNRS campus in Orléans, the Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers en région Centre (OSUC) has created a collection of well-characterised rocks and minerals for testing and calibrating instruments to be flown in space missions. The characteristics of the analogue materials are documented in an accompanying online database. In view of the recent and upcoming rover missions to Mars (NASA's 2011 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and ESA/Roscosmos' 2018 ExoMars), we are concentrating initially on materials of direct relevance to the red planet. The initial collection consists of 15 well-studied rock and mineral samples, including a variety of basalts (ultramafic, weathered, silicified, primitive), sediments (volcanic sands, chert, and a banded iron formation -BIF-), and the phyllosilicate nontronite (a clay). All the samples were characterised petrographically, petrologically, and geochemically using the types of analyses likely to be performed during in-situ missions, in particular ExoMars: hand specimen description; optical microscopy; mineralogical analysis by XRD, Raman and IR spectrometry; iron phase analysis by Mössbauer spectroscopy (MBS), elemental analysis by Energy-Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), microprobe, Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry (ICP-AES) and Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS); and reduced carbon analysis by Raman spectrometry.
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Nicolas Bost, Francès Westall, Claire Ramboz, Frédéric Foucher, Derek Pullan, et al.. Missions to Mars: Characterization of Mars analogue rocks for the International Space Analogue Rockstore (ISAR). Planetary and Space Science, Elsevier, 2013, 82-83, pp.113-127. ⟨10.1016/j.pss.2013.04.006⟩. ⟨insu-00819716⟩

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