Analysis of carbon and nitrogen signatures with laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy; the quest for organics under Mars-like conditions

Abstract : Organic matter has been continuously delivered by meteorites and comets to Mars since its formation, and possibly formed in situ by abiogenic and/or biogenic processes. This organic matter may be preserved from the harsh oxidizing environment of Mars in specific locations. Together with water, organic molecules are necessary to the emergence of life as we know it. Since the first martian landers, scientists have been searching for organics and until today, only one positive detection has been made by a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) instrument onboard the Curiosity rover. In this article we investigate a complementary approach to guide the search for organic matter using ChemCam, the first Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument on Mars. This experimental study focuses on the analysis of carbon and nitrogen LIBS signatures in organoclay samples and allows the determination of the critical level (Lc) and limit of detection (LoD) of these elements with LIBS under Mars-like conditions, giving new insights into the search of organic matter on Mars.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - 4:19:37 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 4, 2019 - 1:52:05 PM

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Tristan Dequaire, Pierre-Yves Meslin, Pierre Beck, M. Jaber, Agnès Cousin, et al.. Analysis of carbon and nitrogen signatures with laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy; the quest for organics under Mars-like conditions. Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy, Elsevier, 2017, 131, pp.8-17. ⟨10.1016/j.sab.2017.02.015⟩. ⟨insu-01480646⟩

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