Dr Paul Mahaffy, NASA AMES, SAM (MSL) and MAVEN Principal Investigator, will talk about Martian Organics, Isotopes, and the Evolution of Habitability Explored in Gale Crater with the Curiosity Rover and from Orbit with the MAVEN mission.
Wednesday 19 October 2022 from 3-4 pm
The Curiosity rover has been systematically exploring for more than 10 years the rocks and soils in an ancient martian crater that once contained a long-lived lake. The exploration of the past habitability of this site on Mars is a major goal of the mission. Over the course of the mission, to date, the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite on the Curiosity rover has enabled a range of geochemical investigations including: (1) atmospheric composition (including methane) and its seasonal variation, (2) isotopic composition of gases in the present atmosphere and gases released from solid samples, (3) dating of rock formation ages using K/Ar measurements, (4) cosmic radiation exposure ages from noble gases released from minerals, (5) characteristics of clays, perchlorates, sulfates, and hydrated minerals from evolved gas analysis (EGA), and (6) identification of organic compounds extracted from soils and rocks. From 2013 to the present the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has been measuring the upper atmosphere of Mars to study its physics and chemistry and the response to solar drivers. The Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer measurements of atmospheric structure and its variability and of primordial argon isotopes help constrain models of loss to space that have profound consequences for major climate transitions from the early wet environment to the present state.