Welcome to the LIBS Planetary Science Applications Website

Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) is a rapid, remote, elemental analysis tool for planetary science.  LIBS uses a laser pulse focused on a surface to ablate a small amount of material.  Atoms ablated in ionized or excited states emit light, yielding the characteristic emission of lines of the elements present in the material (See video clips of the LIBS process).  Spectral analysis and comparison with calibrated standards yields quantitative elemental compositions.  The following features make LIBS especially atractive for planetary surface analysis:

These advantages make LIBS a totally unique instrument:  It it the only instrument that can determine the elemental compositions
of dust-covered rocks remotely.  The typical remote-sensing rover-based instruments- imaging and reflection spectroscopy- can be rendered useless for determining rock compositions when the dust covering is more than a few microns.  LIBS is the only instrument that can be trusted to accurately identify rocks remotely in many typical planetary surface environments!

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Last Updated: October 2007

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