37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 18 Future Missions and Instrumentation
Poster, Monday, September 5, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Lecture Room 5

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[18.13] Organics and Isotopes Analysis on the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory

P. R. Mahaffy (NASA Goddard), SAM Science Team

The 2009 Mars Science Laboratory is designed to achieve a more detailed exploration of habitability, the potential of the Mars environment to support life. This includes a more detailed in situ analysis of the chemical state of elements such as C, H, O, N, S, P, Ca, and Fe that are essential for terrestrial life. The primary MSL investigation for organics and isotope analysis is the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Suite Investigation. The substantial mass and power resources of MSL combined with mobility and powerful sample acquisition and processing tools will enable this rover to locate and analyze a variety of near-surface samples. The primary scientific objectives of the SAM investigation are (1) to take inventory of carbon compounds including those relevant to terrestrial life to determine their sources and processing, (2) to determine the chemical state of light elements through analysis of volatiles from minerals that trace aqueous and geological processes, (3) to examine oxidation chemistries that might play a role in the destruction of organic compounds, and (4) to establish isotope ratios in noble gases and light elements that may constrain models of atmospheric evolution and past habitability conditions. SAM consists of three instruments, a quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS), a gas chromatograph (GC), and a tunable laser spectrometer (TLS). The effluent from the GC is sent to the QMS to enable GCMS analysis although the GC columns also each have an independent detector. SAM incorporates high throughput turbomolecular/molecular drag pumps, a sample manipulation system to move small sample cups in and out of high temperature ovens, and a chemical separation and processing laboratory to enrich trace species and separate gases for precision static mass spectrometer isotope measurements.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: Paul.R.Mahaffy@NASA.gov

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.