SETI Institute Weekly Colloquium
At the Microsoft Campus in Mountain view
1065 La Avenida St, Mountain View CA
FREE and open to the public. Tuesdays, noon to 1pm
Located on Curiosity's mast, the ChemCam instrument ("Chemistry and Camera") uses a laser to provide the elemental composition of geological features along the rover's path. Since 2012, it has contributed to the investigation of geological units that record a time when on Mars, at Gale crater, liquid water was present at the surface.
Dr. Nachon's talk will focus on the ChemCam analysis of geological features embedded or cross-cutting sedimentary rocks that have formed in a fluvial-lacustrine complex. These geological features correspond to a "late" stage of the history of sedimentary rocks at Gale, after their deposition in the fluvial-lacustrine environment.
History of Clays on Mars: How We Found Them and Why They are Important for Astrobiology
Detecting clays on Mars has had a rocky history over the past 4 decades, but detecting them on the surface today is becoming commonplace. This presentation describes the instruments used for identification of clay minerals, where we have found them, and what their presence means. Most phyllosilicates require abundant liquid water to form and thus these minerals provide important clues for the debate about whether Mars was ever warm and wet or not. Also, some clay minerals are used for organic reactions and they may have even been involved in the origin of life on Earth.