8 Sep 2022
by Francesca Willcocks

infocus #67 September 2022 Searching for Terrestrial Analogues for Mars; Applications for Scanning Electron Microscopy

Earth has seen abundant large-scale basaltic volcanism throughout its geological history, and through orbital and lander space missions this type of volcanism has been identified on Mars.

DOI: 10.22443/rms.inf.1.238

Comparisons between this volcanism on Earth and Mars have been limited because we have a lack of direct samples
from the Martian surface, unlike Apollo samples retrieved from our Moon. Martian meteorites are the best samples from the Martian surface that we have available to us on Earth, and they are volcanic in origin – similar to those we find on Earth!

Comparing these meteorites to terrestrial volcanic rocks can help us find terrestrial analogues for Martian volcanism, and allows testing of future spacecraft design and function without going off world. Scanning electron microscopy is a powerful tool for this purpose as it is non-destructive and can allow for these comparisons down to microscopic resolution unlike the metrescale observations made using satellite imagery.