Characterization of hydrogen in basaltic materials with laser‐induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) for application to MSL ChemCam data

1N.H.Thomas et al. (>10)
Journal of Geophysical Research Planets (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1029/2017JE005467]
1Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of TechnologyPasadena, California, USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

The Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, is equipped with ChemCam, a Laser‐Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument, to determine the elemental composition of nearby targets quickly and remotely. We use a laboratory sample set including prepared mixtures of basalt with systematic variation in hydrated mineral content and compositionally well‐characterized, altered basaltic volcanic rocks to measure hydrogen by characterizing the H‐alpha emission line in LIBS spectra under martian environmental conditions. The H contents of all samples were independently measured using thermogravimetric analysis. We found that H peak area increases with weight percent H for our laboratory mixtures with basaltic matrices. The increase is linear with weight percent H in the mixtures with structurally bound H up to about 1.25 wt. % H and then steepens for higher H‐content samples, a non‐linear trend not previously reported but potentially important for characterizing high water content materials. To compensate for instrument, environmental, and target matrix related effects on quantification of H content from the LIBS signal, we examined multiple normalization methods. The best performing methods utilize O 778 nm and C 248 nm emission lines. The methods return comparable results when applied to ChemCam data of H‐bearing materials on Mars. The calibration and normalization methods tested here will aid in investigations of H by LIBS on Mars with ChemCam and SuperCam. Further laboratory work will aid quantification across different physical matrices and heterogeneous textures because of differences we observed in H in pelletized and natural rock samples of the same composition.

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