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In situ chemical analyses of extraterrestrial bodiesOne of the most important tasks on any sample return mission will have to be a quick sample characterization in order to guarantee a variety of collected samples. An alpha particle instrument with alpha, proton and X-ray modes can provide a quick and almost complete chemical analysis of Mars samples. This instrument is based on three interactions of the alpha particles from a radioactive source with matter: elastic scattering of the alpha particles by nuclei (alpha mode), (alpha,p) nuclear reaction with some light elements (proton mode), and excitation of the atomic structure of atoms by alpha particles, leading to emission of characteristic X-rays of the lunar surface at three sites during the Surveyor mission of 1967 to 1968. Since then the instrument has been improved and miniaturized substantially. As shown in the past, the alpha particle instrument can operate under Martian conditions without any degradation in the performance. The alpha and proton modes can provide vital information about the light elements, while the X-ray mode with its ambient temperature X-ray detector will be useful for the heavier elements. The excitation of the atomic structure is provided by the same alpha radioactive source that is used by alpha and proton modes or by an auxiliary X-ray source that is selected to enhance the sensitivity to some important geochemical elements.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Economou, Thanasis E. (Chicago Univ. Chicago, IL, United States)
Turkevich, Anthony L. (Chicago Univ. Chicago, IL, United States)
Date Acquired
September 5, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1988
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Workshop on Mars Sample Return Science
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19890008917Analytic PrimaryWorkshop on Mars Sample Return Science