ExoMars Raman Laser Spectrometer: A Tool for the Potential Recognition of Wet-Target Craters on Mars
In the present work, near-infrared, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, Raman, and X-ray diffractometer techniques have been complementarily used to carry out a comprehensive characterization of a terrestrial analogue selected from the Chesapeake Bay impact structure (CBIS). The obtained data clearly highlight the key role of Raman spectroscopy in the detection of minor and trace compounds, through which inferences about geological processes occurred in the CBIS can be extrapolated. Beside the use of commercial systems, further Raman analyses were performed by the Raman laser spectrometer (RLS) ExoMars Simulator. This instrument represents the most reliable tool to effectively predict the scientific capabilities of the ExoMars/Raman system that will be deployed on Mars in 2021. By emulating the analytical procedures and operational restrictions established by the ExoMars mission rover design, it was proved that the RLS ExoMars Simulator can detect the amorphization of quartz, which constitutes an analytical clue of the impact origin of craters. Beside amorphized minerals, the detection of barite and siderite, compounds crystallizing under hydrothermal conditions, helps indirectly to confirm the presence of water in impact targets. Furthermore, the RLS ExoMars Simulator capability of performing smart molecular mappings was successfully evaluated.