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Development and testing of a prototype LIBS instrument for a NASA Mars rover

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Through funding from NASA’s Mars Instrument Development Program (MIDP), we have been evaluating LIBS for future use on landers and rovers to Mars [1]. Part of this work was the design and fabrication of a compact LIBS instrument for stand-off analysis of geological samples. The instrument was constructed of mainly “off-the-shelf” commercially available components. The instrument was tested in the laboratory and on a NASA rover operated by NASA AMES Research Center at a field site in the Nevada desert [2]. The purpose of the LIBS instrument was (1) to develop an optical system for focusing the laser pulse on and collection of the light from the remotely formed laser plasma, (2) to demonstrate significant down-sizing of a LIBS instrument, and (3) to demonstrate that LIBS can provide useful data in field tests. The results of this preliminary work show the promise of LIBS as a new instrument for use on future missions to Mars.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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