36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 14 Future Missions
Poster I, Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 4:00-7:00pm, Exhibition Hall 1A

[Previous] | [Session 14] | [Next]

[14.17] Lucina: A Spectro-Chemical and Mineralogical Investigation of Mars Habitability

R. W. Carlson, M. S. Anderson, J. Andringa, P. G. Conrad, A. Soto, A. Tsapin (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Calif. Inst. of Technology), W. M. Calvin (Univ. Nevada - Reno), R. N. Clark (US Geological Survey - Denver), K. P. Hand (Stanford University), J. P. Dybwad, W. Wadsworth (Designs and Prototypes, Ltd.)

We have developed a mid-infrared (MIR) spectrometer called Lucina for possible use on the Mars Science Laboratory’s (MSL) Analytical Laboratory. Strong, diagnostic fundamental absorption bands of minerals and chemical compounds occurring in the MIR provide powerful means of sample analysis. MIR spectral analysis is generally the first method used in the laboratory to study unknown samples and this powerful and sensitive technique can be used to study Mars habitability. Lucina’s scientific objectives are to (1) characterize the mineralogy of the MSL site, with emphasis on aqueous-alteration products, (2) inventory the building blocks of life by quantifying the presence of compounds containing C, H, O, N, P, and S, (3) investigate the presence of chemical energy reservoirs (molecules in thermodynamically disequilibrium), and (4) search for chemical signatures of past or present life. Lucina performs active diffuse reflectance spectroscopy of samples produced by the MSL rock crusher using low-power IR illumination, a spatially scanning objective, and a miniature Fourier transform spectrometer. Lucina is capable of quantifying Mars’ minerals and chemicals, both crystalline and amorphous, as well as fluid inclusions, hydrates, and adsorbed species. Lucina is a sensitive detector of organic molecules that may be produced by endolithic microorganisms and exposed in the crushed samples. Lucina can characterize samples prior to their delivery to other Analytical Laboratory instruments and can also be used for contamination assessment. We have constructed a laboratory breadboard of the instrument and demonstrated the utility of MIR spectroscopy at Mars by obtaining diagnostic spectra of candidate Mars surface materials.

[Previous] | [Session 14] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.