Mars Spectrometry: Detect Evidence for Past Habitability

Help NASA scientists identify the chemical composition of rock and soil samples for Mars planetary science. #science

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About the data

The data from this challenge comes from a few sources:

Scientists from the SAM team analyze rock and soil samples using these Earth-based instruments so that they can compare the measured data with those for unknown Martian samples sent back by Curiosity.

Photo of the SAM instrument suite.      Photo of the SAM testbed.

(Left) The SAM instrument suite at Goddard in 2010 before it was integrated onto Curiosity. It is now on Mars. (Right) The SAM testbed, a replica of SAM, installed inside a chamber at Goddard that can simulate the pressures, temperatures, and atmosphere of Mars.

About the NASA team

The Sciences and Exploration Directorate is the largest Earth and space science research organization in the world. Its scientists advance understanding of the Earth and its life-sustaining environment, the Sun, the solar system, and the wider universe beyond. The Directorate is part of Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) is an instrument suite on the Curiosity rover, part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission that was launched in November 2011 and landed on Mars in August 2012. SAM has several capabilities and operating modes that can be used for chemical analysis and identification of samples.

The SAM team is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland with additional team members from other institutions across the United States and internationally. The SAM team developed the instrument suite that is now onboard Curiosity on Mars and is responsible for its continued operations. Here on Earth, the SAM team's scientists analyze the data from Martian samples collected by Curiosity and reproduce those measurements with controlled samples in their labs.

You can learn more here:

Image of SAM courtesy of NASA-GSFC. Image of SAM testbed captured from video courtesy of NASA-GSFC.