Search for Organic Matter at Mars with LIBS and Reflectance Complementary Measurements of the ChemCam Instrument Onboard the Curiosity Rover

Abstract : One of the priorities of the Mars Science Laboratory mission is the search for a past or present prebiotic chemistry. Among the possible indicators of such a chemistry, the organic molecules are key entities linked to the emergence and the development of life, as we know it on Earth. However, only rare evidences of the presence of such molecules (chlo-robenzene and other chlorinated hydrocarbons), in the Mars sedimentary rocks [1] and regolith [2] , were recently found at a very low concentration (150-300 ppbw in the Cumberland mudstone). Thus, one of the most pressing questions is to follow the search and identification of molecules currently present at Mars and their concentration. Onboard the NASA Curiosity currently operating on Mars in Gale crater, the ChemCam instrument (Chemistry and Camera) performs quasi-systematic analyses of the elementary composition of rocks and soils of the Mars surface around the rover. This in- strument is used to identify targets of interest to per- form contact science and drilling from a mineralogical point of view, and also gives chemical information that could be used to look for organics present in the soil.
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Tristan Dequaire, Pierre-Yves Meslin, M. Jaber, William Rapin, Agnès Cousin, et al.. Search for Organic Matter at Mars with LIBS and Reflectance Complementary Measurements of the ChemCam Instrument Onboard the Curiosity Rover. 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Mar 2016, The Woodlands, Texas, United States. pp.1364. ⟨insu-01279757⟩

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