Elemental estimation of terrestrial analogues from the CanMars rover field campaign using LiRS: Implications for detecting silica-rich deposits on Mars

Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114113]
1Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto M3J 1P3, Canada
2Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto M3J 1P3, Canada
3Unidad Asociada Universidad de Valladolid-CSIC-CAB, C/Francisco Valles 8, 47151 Boecillo, Valladolid, Spain
4CSIRO Mineral Resources, 26 Dick Perry Ave, Kensington, WA 6151, Australia
5Department of Geography, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9, Canada
6Department of Physics, University of Toronto, 60 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 1A7, Canada
Copyright Elsevier

As space agencies plan for the continuous deployment of rovers and landers to planetary bodies such as the Moon and Mars, an in-depth, quantitative, and qualitative understanding of the observations is essential. One objective of planetary exploration focuses on planetary geochemistry and biochemistry with an emphasis on the search for possible biosignatures and related minerals. To this end, we present the elemental quantification of samples from the CanMars analogue sample return mission conducted in Hanksville, UT, USA. Measurements were carried out in a laboratory at York University, Canada, using the Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy Raman Sensor (LiRS) instrument- a breadboard for future space concept. A linear Mixture Model (LMM) was used to quantify the abundance of major elements of 10 samples from the resulting Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy LIBS spectra with a calibration set based on the sample mineralogy. We assess the quantification achieved by LiRS and the LMM by error analysis, which resulted in root mean squared error, absolute error, and percentage relative error of less than 1.299 %  ± 0.114% (wt%), 0.959 ± 0.010 (wt%), and 9.613 %  ± 1.914% (of wt%), respectively. The results in question suggest that by complementing information obtained from various sources such as Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and Reflectance spectroscopy, the quantification of LIBS may be significantly improved, from which subsequent geochemical inferences may be made. Within the scope of the CanMars analogue mission, these results show an advancement over past results with possible implications for ongoing and future sample return missions such as the OSIRIS-REx and the Mars2020 Perseverance Rover.


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