Determining mineralogy on mars with the CheMin X-ray diffractometer

Robert T. Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The rover Curiosity is conducting X-ray diffraction experiments on the surface of Mars using the CheMin instrument. The analyses enable identification of the major and minor minerals, providing insight into the conditions under which the samples were formed or altered and, in turn, into past habitable environments on Mars. The CheMin instrument was developed over a twenty-year period, mainly through the efforts of scientists and engineers from NASA and DOE. Results from the first four experiments, at the Rocknest, John Klein, Cumberland, and Windjana sites, have been received and interpreted. The observed mineral assemblages are consistent with an environment hospitable to Earth-like life, if it existed on Mars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • CheMin
  • Curiosity rover
  • Gale crater
  • Habitable environment
  • Mars
  • X-ray diffraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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