Unlocking the mysteries of Mars with LIBS technology

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12. juni 2024 | FOSS

A fascinating geological study on the planet Mars has been using LIBS technology to make geochemical observations since 2012. We spoke to one of the scientists behind the project working in collaboration with NASA.

It is not often that we think of analytical technology outside the confines of an industrial setting or streamlined laboratory on our own planet. But in the case of Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) known from the FOSS Micral™ analyzer, we are talking about a method that has been tried and tested on Mars since 2012.

We spoke to scientist, PhD Jens Frydenvang from the University of Copenhagen, who is using LIBS to study the geology of Mars in collaboration with NASA. Jens Frydenvang has a background in physics with a PhD in analytical chemistry focusing on LIBS.

He is involved in two of the most ambitious LIBS projects that exist today, taking place on Mars. One is the so-called Chemcam instrument, on board the NASA Curiosity rover that landed on Mars in 2012, the other is the Supercam instrument on board the NASA Perseverance rover that landed on Mars three years ago.

The core technology inside both the Chemcam and Supercam is LIBS. The newer Supercam has been upgraded with a few more capabilities, but the technology remains the same. Both instruments have been developed in a collaboration between Los Alamos National Laboratory, in the US where LIBS was originally developed, and the French space agency CNES.

“I have the honor and privilege to be part of both of those instrument teams and be part of especially the calibration efforts. Understanding how we can go from the spectral information into getting the elemental composition of the rocks that we're looking at. And obviously using the geochemical data we collect to learn everything we can about the evolution of Mars,” explains Jens Frydenvang.

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FOSS is the world's leading provider of analytical instruments for the global food and agricultural sector. Working in partnership with the dairy industry, FOSS keeps you ahead of the game with new analysis options for improved business opportunities. For instance, FOSS analytical solutions have proven significant for raw milk testing, milk standardization in dairy production and verification of end-product quality.

FOSS has 1500 employees at development and manufacturing sites in Denmark and China and 28 sales and service companies worldwide.

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