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AXPS

Athena's Alpha-Particle-X-Ray Spectrometer will determine the elemental chemistry of rocks and soils accurately in order to complement and constrain the mineralogical analyses of the other instruments. Athena's APXS will perform elemental analyses of martian surface materials by directly touching a rock or patch of soil.

Through the use of alpha particles and x-rays the APXS will accurately determine a sample's abundances of all rock-forming elements except hydrogen. Analyzing the elemental make-up of martian surface materials will provide scientists with information about crustal formation, weathering processes, and water activity on Mars.




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NASA/JPL/Cornell/Max Planck Institute für Chemie
This graph shows that rocks located deeper into "Endurance Crater" are chemically altered to a greater degree than rocks located higher up. This chemical alteration is believed to result from exposure to water. Specifically, the graph compares ratios of chemicals between the deep rock dubbed "Escher," and the more shallow rock called "Virginia," before and after Opportunity drilled into the rocks. As the red and blue lines indicate, Escher's levels of chlorine relative to Virginia's went up, and sulfur down, before the rover dug a hole into the rocks. This implies that the surface of Escher has been chemically altered to a greater extent than the surface of Virginia. (released October 7, 2004)


NASA/JPL/Cornell/Max Planck Institute für Chemie
This graph shows that the interior of the rock dubbed "Clovis" contains higher concentrations of sulfur, bromine and chlorine than basaltic, or volcanic, rocks studied so far at Gusev Crater. These data were taken by Spirit's APXS after the rover dug into Clovis with its rock abrasion tool. The findings might indicate that fluids once flowed through the rock depositing these elements. (released Aug. 18, 2004)

Spectra from Mars

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