The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) put up a team of scientists, headed by a Western University professor, and funded the respective researchers to conduct reliable Mars minerals research. CSA want the scientists to develop the necessary instruments and tools for better analyze mineral and rock structures on the Red Planet.
Western University’s Department of Earth Sciences and the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration professor, Dr. Roberta Flemming, has been put in charge of the Mars minerals research, and the Canadian Space Agency funded her concept for a miniaturized in-situ X-ray diffractometer. The instrument would employ the technique of X-ray diffraction to establish rock’s mineralogy and its formation history.
NASA’s Curiosity currently uses the same method, but the rover’s instrument is crushing Mars rocks into a powder, “consuming power and rover’s time and also destroying critical information about the relationship between the minerals in the rock,” as a Western University report stated.
Mars Minerals Research, Now Funded by The Canadian Space Agency
Dr. Roberta Flemming acknowledged the need for a much better technology involving X-ray diffraction. Her in-situ X-ray diffractometer would be that instrument that would not turn Mars rocks in a powder, thus keeping intact the connection between the minerals in the rock. The Canadian Space Agency considered that the project is of a great significance of the future Mars minerals research.
Therefore, CSA funded the research and put up a team of scientists from Western, Guelph University and Brock University to work on improved instruments to study the minerals of Mars rocks.
At first, the researchers would use rocks similar to those on the Red Planet, minerals common on Mars, and Martian meteorites to test the X-ray diffractometer. Currently, the Canadian Space Agency has no plans to send a version of that instrument on Mars during future missions to the Red Planet.