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Studies of a Lacustrine-Volcanic Mars Analog Field Site with Mars-2020-like Instruments

Martin, Peter E. and Ehlmann, Bethany L. and Thomas, Nancy H. and Wiens, Roger C. and Hollis, Joseph J. R. and Beegle, Luther W. and Bhartia, Rohit and Clegg, Samuel M. and Blaney, Diana L. (2020) Studies of a Lacustrine-Volcanic Mars Analog Field Site with Mars-2020-like Instruments. Earth and Space Science, 7 (2). Art. No. e2019EA000720. ISSN 2333-5084. doi:10.1029/2019ea000720.

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On the upcoming Mars‐2020 rover two remote sensing instruments, Mastcam‐Z and SuperCam, and two microscopic proximity science instruments, SHERLOC and PIXL, will collect compositional (mineralogy, chemistry, and organics) data essential for paleoenvironmental reconstruction. The synergies between and limitations of these instruments were evaluated via study of a Mars analog field site in the Mojave Desert, using instruments approximating the data that will be returned by Mars‐2020. A ground truth dataset was generated for comparison to validate the results. The site consists of a succession of clay‐rich mudstones of lacustrine origin, interbedded tuffs, a carbonate‐silica travertine deposit, and gypsiferous mudstone strata. The major geological units were mapped successfully using simulated Mars‐2020 data. Simulated Mastcam‐Z data identified unit boundaries and Fe‐bearing weathering products. Simulated SuperCam passive shortwave infrared and green Raman data were essential in identifying major mineralogical composition and changes in lacustrine facies at distance; this was possible even with spectrally downsampled passive IR data. LIBS and simulated PIXL data discriminated and mapped major element chemistry. Simulated PIXL revealed mm‐scale zones enriched in zirconium, of interest for age dating. SHERLOC‐like data mapped sulfate and carbonate at sub‐mm scale; silicates were identified with increased laser pulses/spot or by averaging of hundreds of spectra. Fluorescence scans detected and mapped varied classes of organics in all samples, characterized further with follow‐on spatially targeted deep‐UV Raman spectra. Development of dedicated organics spectral libraries is needed to aid interpretation. Given these observations, the important units in the outcrop would be sampled and cached for sample return.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemData
Martin, Peter E.0000-0003-4243-2090
Ehlmann, Bethany L.0000-0002-2745-3240
Thomas, Nancy H.0000-0003-1989-4860
Wiens, Roger C.0000-0002-3409-7344
Hollis, Joseph J. R.0000-0002-6239-694X
Beegle, Luther W.0000-0002-4944-4353
Clegg, Samuel M.0000-0002-0338-0948
Blaney, Diana L.0000-0002-4267-7939
Additional Information:© 2020 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Received 21 MAY 2019; Accepted 28 JAN 2020; Accepted article online 31 JAN 2020. Thanks to George Rossman for helpful discussions and Mike Wong for the use of both his camera and photography abilities. We are also grateful to Aaron Celestian and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles for allowing us to use the micro-XRF in their analytical laboratories. Ryan Anderson was responsive and immensely helpful with running PySAT for LIBS data reduction. Thanks to Dot Delapp and Rhonda McInroy for their help collecting and processing the LIBS measurements at LANL. Thanks to Abigail Allwood for early discussions of PIXL capabilities. Thanks also to Sylvestre Maurice for helpful input regarding SuperCam. This work was partially funded by a NASA Mars-2020 Mastcam-Z project grant to B.L.E., a NASA MSL Participating Scientist project grant to B.L.E. (for LIBS data collection and analysis), a Rose Hills Foundation grant to Caltech for B.L.E. and a NASA MatISSE grant to D.L.B. (for imaging spectroscopy data collection). Work at LANL was funded by the Mars Exploration Program through Mars-2020/SuperCam. The raw data used in this study is available in the Harvard Dataverse data repository (
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Rose Hills FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Mars‐2020; Mars analog; SuperCam; Mastcam‐Z; SHERLOC; PIXL
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200131-152046441
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Martin, P. E., Ehlmann, B. L., Thomas, N. H., Wiens, R. C., Hollis, J. J. R., Beegle, L. W., et al. (2020). Studies of a lacustrine‐volcanic Mars analog field site with Mars‐2020‐like instruments. Earth and Space Science, 7, e2019EA000720.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:101043
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:31 Jan 2020 23:49
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:58

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