Our non-contact optical instrument will rapidly measure elemental compositions (~30 elements simultaneously) and key isotopic abundances in planetary surface materials. The isotope ratios of D/H and O-18/O-16 will provide important constraints on the history of processes on Mars, particularly related to past water activities. We first aim at oxygen and hydrogen in this proposal but we have also shown that our technology can be extended to many other chemical elements. This technology is directly relevant to several NASA objectives for Mars: (i) characterization of geological features contributing to deciphering geological history; (ii) determination of surface chemical composition including elements known to be building blocks for life; (iii) characterization of organic compounds and potential biomarkers in representative bedrock and regolith; (iv) identification of potential chemical and isotopic biosignatures in rocks and regolith; (v) characterization of the local environment, the state and cycling of water and CO2, and the near-surface distribution of hydrogen. NRC's decadal survey recommended a plan leading to Mars Sample Return. As part of this program, there is a need to conduct in situ analysis to select the best and most varied set of samples to return to Earth. Our proposal is particularly focused on Mars but highly relevant to applications on the Moon, other planets, their moons and asteroids. Similar studies are very important to NASA's Earth Science missions.
Our concept of an integrated instrument capable of both elemental and isotopic measurements has significant commercial applications. LAMIS is poised to speed up, to simplify and to make isotopic analysis more affordable than at present. Multiple applications are anticipated in the nuclear power industry, medical diagnostics and therapies, forensics, homeland security, carbon sequestration, natural gas and oil exploration, ecological and agronomical studies. Heavy water nuclear reactors require deuterium enrichment 99.85%. Water-18O is used as a precursor in the radiopharmaceutical industry. Deuterated drugs and stable isotopic markers are increasingly used in the fields of medicine, pharmacology, nutrition and physiology. Studies of vegetation and different ecosystems include isotopic measurements of soils, flora, fauna, air, groundwater and the results of human activities. Medical multinuclear MRI scanners require compounds enriched in NMR-active isotopes. To assess quality, specifications or aging of these materials, their isotopic homogeneity or distribution, and a degree of isotopic enrichment can be rapidly tested by LAMIS in open air. In animals and humans, stable isotopes are used to study host-parasite relationship. Measurement of the D/H and oxygen isotopic ratios is essential in paleoclimatology, material sciences, biological and medical research. We will apply for further development through newly established NRA programs PICASSO and MatISSE, and also through MIDP.