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Applicant -- Martian Igneous and Sedimentary Petrography: Observational, Experimental, and Analytical Projects Related to Understanding the Geology of the Red Planet

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Nicholas
Castle

The study of planetary geology is often made difficult, as researchers are forced to either use field observations with incomplete datasets, or sample observations lacking any sort of field context. As a result, planetary scientists are are frequently forced to rely on studies through multiple avenues to make substantial progress. As a researcher focused on the study of Mars, I will be presenting recent results from two very different kinds of projects that illustrate the breadth of my work. The first project is a study in igneous petrology, where I demonstrate how foreign material (xenoliths and xenocrysts) incorporated into one of the basaltic lithologies in Elephant Moraine 79001 can tell us about the Martian crust. In brief, I demonstrate that what was once thought to be material from a single incorporated lithology actually contains fragments from several different source rocks, giving us the ability to study multiple sources from within the martian crust. In the second portion of the presentation, I will switch gears to discuss my work with the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity. As one of the scientists working with the CheMin instrument, the 2D X-ray diffractometer on Mars, I have been working to evaluate the detection limits associated with minor mineral phases. I will present a statistical groundwork for determining the limits of detection and quantitation of low-abundance minerals. I hope to continue to develop this work, using analogue samples to evaluate how robustly recent techniques can be used to extend the inferences possible with the instrument, and to aid in the development of future mission science packages.

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