- © 2015 by the Mineralogical Society of America
The ChemCam laser-induced breakdown spectrometer on the rover Curiosity has provided more than 200,000 spectra from over 5000 different locations on Mars. This instrument is the first chemical microprobe on Mars and has an analytical footprint 0.3–0.6 mm in diameter. ChemCam has observed a measure of hydration in all the sedimentary materials encountered along the rover traverse in Gale Crater, indicating the ubiquity of phyllosilicates as a constituent of the analyzed sandstones, mudstones, and conglomerates. Diagenetic features, including calcium sulfate veins, millimeter-thick magnesium-rich diagenetic ridges, and manganese-rich rock surfaces, provide clues to water–rock interactions. Float clasts of coarse-grained igneous rocks are rich in alkali feldspars and some are enriched in fluorine, indicating greater magmatic evolution than expected on Mars. The identification of individual soil components has contributed to our understanding of the evolution of Martian soil. These observations have broadened our understanding of Mars as an active and once habitable planet.