Quantification of water content by laser induced breakdown spectroscopy on Mars

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Journal Article
Spectrochimica Acta - Part B Atomic Spectroscopy, 2017, 130 pp. 82 - 100
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), as performed by the ChemCam instrument, provides a new technique to measure hydrogen at the surface of Mars. Using a laboratory replica of the LIBS instrument onboard the Curiosity rover, different types of hydrated samples (basalts, calcium and magnesium sulfates, opals and apatites) covering a range of targets observed on Mars have been characterized and analyzed. A number of factors related to laser parameters, atmospheric conditions and differences in targets properties can affect the standoff LIBS signal, and in particular the hydrogen emission peak. Dedicated laboratory tests were run to identify a normalization of the hydrogen signal which could best compensate for these effects and enable the application of the laboratory calibration to Mars data. We check that the hydrogen signal increases linearly with water content; and normalization of the hydrogen emission peak using to oxygen and carbon emission peaks (related to the breakdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide) constitutes a robust approach. Moreover, the calibration curve obtained is relatively independent of the samples types.
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