The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument on the Curiosity rover incorporates a multi-column gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) that is used to analyze the composition of organic compounds released from rocks.
A variety of laboratory studies are carried out in support of these experiments on Mars. Instruments are commercial GCMS systems, SAM breadboards, and a high fidelity SAM testbed.
In addition, to GCMS experiments on compounds thermally released using evolved gas analysis (EGA) from powdered rocks and soils SAM utilizes chemical derivatization and thermochemolysis techniques based on solvents and reagents sealed in several SAM cups.
The objective is to conduct GCMS and derivatization and thermochemolysis studies on terrestrial analogues.
In addition, characterization is needed for a range of calibrants using the specific columns and experiment conditions used by the SAM experiment on Mars. These studies will extend the groundbreaking discoveries of SAM of organics on Mars and contribute to the interpretation of existing data and future data to be secured as the Curiosity rover moves further up Mount Sharp in Gale crater.