ChemCam is a remote LIBS and remote micro-imager instrument suite on board the
Mars Science Laboratory rover. The project is described elsewhere in this site.
SAGE RLS is a combined Raman spectroscopy and LIBS instrument designed to analyze multiple locations on the surface of Venus from the SAGE lander, providing both mineralogy and elemental compositions. The instrument is to operate through a window of the lander to the near surface of Venus. The project is a joint venture with JPL and with CNES/CESR in France. Dr. Sam Clegg of LANL is the instrument lead. The instrument takes significant heritage from ChemCam and also builds on PIDDP and MIDP efforts on pulsed remote Raman spectroscopy. The SAGE mission was downselected as one of three candidate New Frontier missions in 2010.
LANL has also provided internal funding to support LIBS work directed at the planetary sciences at various times. For example, spectra have been obtained of lunar- and asteroid-relevant materials in a vacuum. The materials include mixtures of water ice and lunar soil simulants, demonstrating the ability of LIBS to potentially detect and characterize water at the lunar poles. This internal funding enables LANL to participate in proposals for future NASA programs.
We have worked recently with several groups on Mars Fundamental Research Projects related to LIBS in preparation for the ChemCam Mars campaign. One such MFRP has been ongoing with Darby Dyar of Mt. Holyoke College and is aimed at quantification techniques for LIBS as well as developing a library of standards. Another MFRP has been with Shiv Sharma and Anupam Misra of U. Hawaii, aimed more at investigating volatiles with LIBS.
Students: LANL is working with Delaware State University's NASA Center for Optical Excellence under a URC grant. Under this arrangement LANL advises DSU in obtaining and studying LIBS spectra under Mars-like conditions. In addition up to two DSU students work at LANL each summer, potentially participating in flight projects. The collaboration is to continue through 2015.