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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[18.20] An Infrared Drill Borehole Spectrometer for Mars

W. Smythe, M. Foote (JPL), E. Johnson, J. Daly, P. Loges, I. Puscasu (Ion Optics), S. Gorevan, P. Chu (HoneyBee Robotics), J. Granahan (SAIC)

The best clues to Mars past may be hidden below the surface of Mars. Long exposure to the sun, high winds and dust storms, large diurnal temperature excursions, and eons of space weathering combine to render a greatly modified surface, in many instances remarkable for its appearance of uniform composition. Drilling can provide access to the layers in the caps, to the permafrost and possibly, to pristine crustal material. The drilling process is complex with high demand on support resources. It is vital to make the drilling process as efficient as possible. A most promising approach is to instrument the drill string itself, thereby avoiding the complexity of sample handling, speeding and simplifying drill operations, and allowing examination of freshly exposed surfaces within the borehole.

A solid-state IR spectrometer is being integrated with a blackbody source into a package to fit within an existing Mars drill design. The borehole IR spectrometer is used to monitor facies encountered throughout the drilling process. The spectrometer/IR combination is used in reflectance spectrometer mode to monitor H2O and CO2 content, as well as iron and carbonate mineralogies.

Integration required adapting the existing spectrometer to fit within the drill -- including attaching the detectors directly to the spectrometer waveguide, developing the techniques required to seal the micro-thermopile detectors to the waveguide, implementing miniaturized digital conversion electronics, combining the spectrometer with the IR source and coupling them to a suitable window, implementing a suitable sealed package to fit within the drill, integrating and testing the package on a drill, and establishing the proper gain for both stimulus and spectrometer to permit reasonable range of Mars soil analogs. Tests have shown that both sapphire and diamond windows perform well in the drilling environment. Testing of the integrated spectrometer and drill will be completed in the coming year.

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