, Volume 170, Issue 1-4, pp 229-255,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 May 2012

Ceramic ChemCam Calibration Targets on Mars Science Laboratory


The ChemCam instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity will use laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to analyze major and minor element chemistry from sub-millimeter spot sizes, at ranges of ∼1.5–7 m. To interpret the emission spectra obtained, ten calibration standards will be carried on the rover deck. Graphite, Ti metal, and four glasses of igneous composition provide primary, homogeneous calibration targets for the laser. Four granular ceramic targets have been added to provide compositions closer to soils and sedimentary materials like those expected at the Gale Crater field site on Mars. Components used in making these ceramics include basalt, evaporite, and phyllosilicate materials that approximate the chemical compositions of detrital and authigenic constituents of clastic and evaporite sediments, including the elevated sulfate contents present in many Mars sediments and soils. Powdered components were sintered at low temperature (800 °C) with a small amount (9 wt.%) of lithium tetraborate flux to produce ceramics that retain volatile sulfur yet are durable enough for the mission. The ceramic targets are more heterogeneous than the pure element and homogenous glass standards but they provide standards with compositions more similar to the sedimentary rocks that will be Curiosity’s prime targets at Gale Crater.