The Distribution of Organic Material in Mars-Analogue Volcanic Rocks, as Determined with Ultraviolet Laser-Induced Fluorescence Spectroscopy
Ryan, Catheryn Helena
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With continuous advancements in technology and space research, the priorities of scientists who study the surface of Mars have shifted from characterizing the environment to detecting signs of life. Hence, research programs such as the Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains (BASALT) research project have been developed to return samples from Mars-analogue volcanic environments. Furthermore, new frontiers in instrumentation are being explored with the goal of detecting organic materials in planetary and planetary-analogue rocks. The York University ultraviolet laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) spectroscopy instrument was used in this research to characterize the distribution of organic material in samples returned from two BASALT deployments. These samples represent a range of alteration conditions found in the volcanic environments of Hawaii and Idaho. LIF mapping and LIF time-resolved measurements were taken of nine basaltic samples. Samples were also analyzed using scanning electron microscopy to characterize the mineralogy present at fluorescent points-of-interest and confirm the presence of carbonaceous material. Finally, pycnometry and micro-computerized tomography were used to determine the porosity of the samples, which could be compared to the results from LIF and SEM-EDS measurements. LIF was shown to be a useful tool for in situ measurements of Mars-analogue samples, and could be applied to future Mars missions.