Article

Space Science Reviews

, Volume 170, Issue 1, pp 341-399

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Characterization and Calibration of the CheMin Mineralogical Instrument on Mars Science Laboratory

  • David BlakeAffiliated withExobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center Email author 
  • , David VanimanAffiliated withPlanetary Science Institute
  • , Cherie AchillesAffiliated withESCG/Hamilton Sundstrand
  • , Robert AndersonAffiliated withJet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
  • , David BishAffiliated withDept. of Geological Sciences, Indiana University
  • , Tom BristowAffiliated withExobiology Branch, MS 239-4, NASA Ames Research Center
  • , Curtis ChenAffiliated withJet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
  • , Steve ChiperaAffiliated withChesapeake Energy Corp.
  • , Joy CrispAffiliated withJet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
    • , David Des MaraisAffiliated withExobiology Branch, MS 239-4, NASA Ames Research Center
    • , Robert T. DownsAffiliated withDepartment of Geosciences, University of Arizona
    • , Jack FarmerAffiliated withExobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research CenterSchool of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University
    • , Sabrina FeldmanAffiliated withJet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
    • , Mark FondaAffiliated withExobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research CenterSpace Science Division, MS 245-1, NASA Ames Research Center
    • , Marc GailhanouAffiliated withExobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research CenterFaculté des Sciences et Techniques
    • , Hongwei MaAffiliated withDept. of Geological Sciences, Indiana University
    • , Doug W. MingAffiliated withLyndon B. Johnson Space Center
    • , Richard V. MorrisAffiliated withLyndon B. Johnson Space Center
    • , Philippe SarrazinAffiliated withExobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research CenterSETI Institute
    • , Ed StolperAffiliated withExobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research CenterMC 206-31, California Institute of Technology
    • , Allan TreimanAffiliated withExobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research CenterLunar and Planetary Institute
    • , Albert YenAffiliated withJet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Abstract

A principal goal of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity is to identify and characterize past habitable environments on Mars. Determination of the mineralogical and chemical composition of Martian rocks and soils constrains their formation and alteration pathways, providing information on climate and habitability through time. The CheMin X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) instrument on MSL will return accurate mineralogical identifications and quantitative phase abundances for scooped soil samples and drilled rock powders collected at Gale Crater during Curiosity’s 1-Mars-year nominal mission. The instrument has a Co X-ray source and a cooled charge-coupled device (CCD) detector arranged in transmission geometry with the sample. CheMin’s angular range of 5 to 50 2θ with <0.35 2θ resolution is sufficient to identify and quantify virtually all minerals. CheMin’s XRF requirement was descoped for technical and budgetary reasons. However, X-ray energy discrimination is still required to separate Co Kα from Co Kβ and Fe Kα photons. The X-ray energy-dispersive histograms (EDH) returned along with XRD for instrument evaluation should be useful in identifying elements Z>13 that are contained in the sample. The CheMin XRD is equipped with internal chemical and mineralogical standards and 27 reusable sample cells with either Mylar® or Kapton® windows to accommodate acidic-to-basic environmental conditions. The CheMin flight model (FM) instrument will be calibrated utilizing analyses of common samples against a demonstration-model (DM) instrument and CheMin-like laboratory instruments. The samples include phyllosilicate and sulfate minerals that are expected at Gale crater on the basis of remote sensing observations.

Keywords

X-ray diffraction Mineralogy Mars habitability Mars science laboratory Planetary science Spacecraft instruments