The Mars, Moon, Meteorite Evolved Gas Analysis (M3EGA) laboratory objective is to conduct thermal and evolved gas analyses of volatile bearing minerals (e.g., carbonates, sulfates, perchlorates, oxyhydroxides, phyllosilicates).
Analyses conducted in this laboratory are compared to similar data collected during planetary missions to verify the presence and abundance of such minerals on other planetary bodies. The M3EGA lab has three differential scanning calorimeter / thermal gravimetric analyzers (DSC/TGA) that are coupled to mass spectrometers (MS).
The DSC/TGA instruments provide thermal data that indicate the reaction enthalpies and weight loss / gains associated with mineral decomposition or formation reactions. Simultaneous mass spectrometer analyses allows determination of evolved gas release during mineral reactions. The M3EGA lab can do analyses from -120 to 1400°C, 0.1 to 1000 mbar, and under flowing CO2, N2, or He.
Inside the M3EGA Laboratory: NASA scientist Doug Archer downloads data from one of the mass spectrometers. The lab currently has three thermal analyzers integrated with mass spectrometers to support the SAM instrument on the Mars Curiosity rover mission.