The sound of geological targets on Mars from the absolute intensity of laser-induced sparks shock waves

C. Álvarez-Llamas, J.J. Laserna, J. Moros, P. Purohit, L. García-Gómez, S. M. Angel, P. Bernardi, B. Bousquet, A. Cadu, E. Dauson, O. Forni, T. Fouchet, O. Gasnault, X. Jacob, G. Lacombe, N.L. Lanza, C. Larmat, J. Lasue, R.D. Lorenz, P.-Y. Meslin, D. Mimoun, F. Montmessin, N. Murdoch, A. M. Ollila, P. Pilleri, N. Randazzo, A. L. Reyes-Newell, S. Schröder, A. Stott, J. Ten Cate, A. Udry, D. Vogt, S. Clegg, A. Cousin, S. Maurice, R. C. Wiens and the SuperCam Acoustics and LIBS Working Groups, Spectrochimica Acta Part B, 2023, 205, 106687


Inspection of geological material is one of the main goals of the Perseverance rover during its journey across the landscape of the Jezero crater in Mars. NASA’s rover integrates SuperCam, an instrument capable of performing standoff characterization of samples using a variety of techniques. Among those tools, SuperCam can perform laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) studies to elucidate the chemical composition of the targets of interest. Data from optical spectroscopy can be supplemented by simultaneously-produced laser-produced plasma acoustics in order to expand the information acquired from the probed rocks thanks to the SuperCam’s microphone (MIC) as it can be synchronized with the LIBS laser. Herein, we report cover results from LIBS and MIC during Perseverance’s first 380 sols on the Martian surface. We study the correlation between both recorded signals, considering the main intrasample and environmental sources of variation for each technique, to understand their behavior and how they can be interpreted together towards complimenting LIBS with acoustics. We find that louder and more stable acoustic signals are recorded from rock with compact surfaces, i.e., low presence loose particulate material, and harder mineral phases in their composition. Reported results constitute the first description of the evolution of the intensity in the time domain of shockwaves from laser-produced plasmas on geological targets recorded in Mars. These signals are expected contain physicochemical signatures pertaining to the inspected sampling positions. As the dependence of the acoustic signal recorded on the sample composition, provided by LIBS, is unveiled, the sound from sparks become a powerful tool for the identification of mineral phases with similar optical emission spectra.

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