DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 41. Future Missions and Instruments
Poster, Highlighted on, Friday, September 5, 2003, 3:30-6:00pm, Sierra Ballroom I-II

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[41.04] In Situ Analysis of Organics and Isotopes at Mars

P.R. Mahaffy (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), S.K. Atreya (University of Michigan), W.B. Brinckerhoff (Applied Physics Laboratory, The John Hopkins University), M. Cabane (Service d’Aéronomie, IPSL, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris), P. Coll (LISA, Université de Paris VII et XII, Créteil), J. Demick (SSAI, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), D.N. Harpold (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), D. Ming (Johnson Space Center), H. Niemann (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), T. Owen (University of Hawaii at Manoa), F. Raulin (LISA, Université de Paris VII et XII, Créteil), J. Scott (Carnegie Institution of Washington), C. Webster (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

The recent success of the “follow the water” imperative for Mars exploration is tempered by the fact that more than 2 decades after Viking, much remains unknown about the state of carbon at the planet’s surface. Therefore, a key objective for lander missions that follow MER will be a search for the location and nature of organic molecules and other carbon containing species. Reduced or partially oxidized compounds may reveal the nature of ancient or even present biotic or prebiotic processes. Ongoing definition and development of advanced techniques and protocols to “follow the carbon” will be described. For example, an instrument suite presently under development to be proposed for inclusion on the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory consists of an advanced gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) with derivatization capability coupled with a laser desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometer (LDMS) and a tunable laser spectrometer (TLS). The suite is designated SAM (for Sample Analysis at Mars) and is designed to carry out analysis of both atmospheric gases and volatiles released from solid phase soils, rock samples, and ices. Volatile organic molecules and their pyrolysis products are analyzed by the GCMS and TLS, and refractory organics and elements by the LDMS. Additional objectives include higher precision measurements than have been obtained, to date, of the abundances and isotope ratios of the noble gases and a range of light elements including H, C, O, and N in both the atmosphere and soil. SAM can also contribute to geochemical objectives with the identification of various minerals through evolved gas analysis (EGA) of stable thermal decomposition products such as H2O, CO2, and oxides of nitrogen and sulfur using the MS and TLS as the detector. Recent EGA studies on Mars analogue materials that illustrate this capability are described.

This work is supported by funding from NASA and CNES

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, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.