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Analytical Chemistry Throughout This Solar System

  • Seaton, Kenneth Marshall
  • Cable, Morgan Leigh
  • Stockton, Amanda Michelle
Published Article
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
Jun 13, 2022
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-anchem-061020-125416
Annual Reviews


One of the greatest and most long-lived scientific pursuits of humankind has been to discover and study the planetary objects comprising our solar system. Information gained from solar system observations, via both remote sensing and in situ measurements, is inherently constrained by the analytical (often chemical) techniques we employ in these endeavors. The past 50 years of planetary science missions have resulted in immense discoveries within and beyond our solar system, enabled by state-of-the-art analytical chemical instrument suites on board these missions. In this review, we highlight and discuss some of the most impactful analytical chemical instruments flown on planetary science missions within the last 20 years, including analytical techniques ranging from remote spectroscopy to in situ chemical separations. We first highlight mission-based remote and in situ spectroscopic techniques, followed by in situ separation and mass spectrometry analyses. The results of these investigations are discussed, and their implications examined, from worlds as close as Venus and familiar as Mars to as far away and exotic as Titan. Instruments currently in development for planetary science missions in the near future are also discussed, as are the promises their capabilities bring. Analytical chemistry is critical to understanding what lies beyond Earth in our solar system, and this review seeks to highlight how questions, analytical tools, and answers have intersected over the past 20 years and their implications for the near future.

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