Earth and Planetary Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover is utilizing laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) instrumentation to determine compositions of rocks shot in Gale crater, Mars, from a distance of 1.56-7 meters. At the same time, martian breccia meteorite Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034 was analyzed with the ChemCam engineering model laboratory LIBS instrument at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) at a 1.6 m standoff distance under 7 Torr CO2. Each LIBS location was pulsed with 150 shots at 3 Hz and 13.5 mJ/pulse. Comparison of NWA 7034 LIBS results with the bulk composition acquired with electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) show agreement within LIBS instrument error. Comparison of NWA 7034 data with targets from Gale shows chemical and textural similarities. This study helps bridge the gap between Mars in situ and martian meteorite data by using LIBS data to determine compositions of heterogeneous rock samples outside the compositional range previously observed on Mars.

Degree Name

Earth and Planetary Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

First Advisor

Newsom, Horton

First Committee Member (Chair)

Agee, Carl

Second Committee Member

McCubbin, Francis

Third Committee Member

Scuderi, Louis

Project Sponsors

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, New Mexico Space Grant, National Science Foundation




Mars, NWA 7034, LIBS, MSL

Document Type