July 21, 2016

CHEMCAM-MU Organization

The CHEMCAM instrument is under the responsibility of an American PI from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). French contribution to CHEMCAM: CHEMCAM-MU (Mast Unit) is under the responsibility of a Deputy-PI from IRAP. Technical responsibility for the instrument development belongs to an instrument project manager from CNES.

The organization is structured in two teams–a scientific team and a technical team.

  • The scientific team's role is to develop the LIBS method, to assist the instrument development and to use and interpret the scientific data delivered by the instrument in operation on Mars.
    This team is composed of scientists from astronomy, Earth sciences (geochemistry, petrology, morphology, etc.), life sciences (exobiology) and analytical chemistry in laboratory (LIBS). It is constituted of seven Co-Is with roles defined and accepted by NASA, and a dozen associates who actively participate in the project.


  • The technical teamis in charge of CHEMCAM-MU development as well as associated ground supports. It is a CNRS/CNES integrated team of about twenty engineers in Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Paris.
    As CHEMCAM is composed of two sub-systems with relatively autonomous functionalities, interfaces and localization on the Rover, the American PI from LANL proposed that the interfaces (mechanical, thermal, electrical, etc.) between CHEMCAM-MU and the Rover be discussed and defined directly between the French team and JPL interface managers. LANLs' American team is systematically updated for each discussion with JPL.

An advisory team constituted of CNRS and CNES experts was constituted to verify that the instrument development had no major issue and met the scientific objectives. It could be involved (completely or partially), should the project need it, in reviews or peer reviews held by CNES, LANL, JPL, and NASA.

The following scheme describes the organization set up for CHEMCAM-MU development as well as the main interfaces which are ensured daily during the development:

Organisation CHEMCAM-MU