Raman semi-quantification on Mars: ExoMars RLS system as a tool to better comprehend the geological evolution of Martian crust

1Marco Veneranda et al. (>10)
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2021.114542]
1University of Valladolid, Ave. Francisco Vallés, 8, 47151 Valladolid, Spain
Copyright Elsevier

This work presents the latest chemometric tools developed by the RLS science team to optimize the scientific outcome of the Raman system onboard the ExoMars 2022 rover. Feldspar, pyroxene and olivine samples were first analyzed through the RLS ExoMars Simulator to determine the spectroscopic indicators to be used for a proper discrimination of mineral phases on Mars. Being the main components of Martian basaltic rocks, lepidocrocite, augite and forsterite were then used as mineral proxies to prepare binary mixtures. By emulating the operational constraints of the RLS, Raman datasets gathered from laboratory mixtures were used to build external calibration curves. Providing excellent coefficients of determination (R2 0.9942÷0.9997), binary curves were finally used to semi-quantify ternary mixtures of feldspar, pyroxene and olivine minerals. As Raman results are in good agreement with real concentration values, this work suggests the RLS could be effectively used to perform semi-quantitative mineralogical studies of the basaltic geological units found at Oxia Planum. As such, crucial information about the geological evolution of Martian Crust could be extrapolated. In light of the outstanding scientific impact this analytical method could have for the ExoMars mission, further methodological improvements to be discussed in a dedicated work are finally proposed.

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