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Review of in situ analytical techniques used to study the surface of Mars

The last 50 years of Mars missions are reviewed in a new publication by AIAS Fellow Julene Aramendia and international collaborators, focusing on the techniques used for making on-site geochemical studies of the surface of Mars.

Image: Mars mission vehicles. For full size of the image, press the image. Credit: Julene Aramendia.

From NASA’s Viking Project in the 1970s to the future Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission, the techniques used for the in situ study of the geochemistry of the Martian surface are described in a new publication with contribution from AIAS Fellow Julene Aramendia.

To gather on-site material of Mars is an operation that has to be carried out under extreme conditions. In the review article, the researchers account for the evolution of in situ Martian analytical techniques, and some of the major challenges that analytical chemistry has faced, as results of the technological and scientific requirements of space missions.

The review gathers all the in situ analytical techniques that have reached the surface of Mars onboard landers or rovers with the aim of studying its geochemistry. The authors look at both elemental and molecular techniques used to provide key information about the surface. The Viking XRF and GCMS were the first in situ analytical techniques on Mars.

The review concludes that a combination of analytical techniques provides better results.

AIAS Fellow Julene Aramendia focuses in her research on the use of Raman spectroscopy and other spectroscopic analytical techniques for the study of a wide range of samples: biologic samples, cultural heritage assets, environmental and extraterrestrial materials. She is a member of the Science Team of the Raman Laser Spectrometer (RLS) in the ESA, the European Space Agency, EXOMARS2022 Mission. Several Raman spectrometers will be onboard the EXOMARS2022 mission.

The scientific review article

Reviewing in situ analytical techniques used to research Martian geochemistry: From the Viking Project to the MMX future mission’
by Jennifer Huidobro, Julene Aramendia, Gorka Arana, Juan Manuel Madariaga in: Analytica Chimica Acta, 15 January 2022.

Contact

Julene Aramendia, AIAS Fellow
E-mail: julene.aramendia@aias.au.dk

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