Canadian research plays role in Mars exploration

This NASA handout image shows the robotic arm of the Mars rover Curiosity with the first rock...

This NASA handout image shows the robotic arm of the Mars rover Curiosity with the first rock touched by the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer instrument on Sept. 22, 2012. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

A device developed in Ontario helped NASA scientists carry out the first full analysis of Martian soil.

The Mars Curiosity rover found water, sulphur and chlorine within scoops of soil this week — a discovery University of Guelph physics professor Ian Campbell calls "a significant technological and analytical achievement."

And it would not have been possible without an analytical device called the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS), built at the University of Guelph and mounted on the rover's arm.

The APXS measures the chemical elements within rock or soil.

It was built by an international group of scientists headed by U of G 's Ralf Gellert, and its daily operations and analysis are run by a U of G team right on campus.

Curiosity is the first Mars rover that can scoop up soil samples for internal analysis.


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