August 1, 2012.
This project utilizes the Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer (MECA) Wet Chemistry Laboratory Testbed (WCL), a payload component of the NASA Phoenix Mars Mission, to analyze Mars soil analogs to find the limits of detection for various compounds of interest- including peroxides, chlorates, sulfates, and other oxidants. When the Phoenix Rover landed in the northern plains of Mars in the summer of 2008, three soil samples were analyzed for soluble components. In this analysis, large amounts of perchlorate were detected. Now, we are relooking at the Phoenix data to see if it shows evidence of other oxidants. The electrochemical techniques of chronopotentiometry and cyclic voltammetry techniques used on this mission are being replicated in the WCL testbed under operating flight conditions to find these limits of detection. This data will then be used to direct the design of the next generation wet chemistry laboratory testbed.
This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU).