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The inorganic chemical investigation added in August 1972 to the Viking Lander scientific package will utilize an energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer in which four sealed, gas-filled proportional counters will detect X-rays emitted from samples of the Martian surface materials irradiated by X-rays from radioisotope sources (55Fe and 109Cd). The output of the proportional counters will be subjected to pulse-height analysis by an on-board step-scanning single-channel analyzer with adjustable counting periods. The data will be returned to Earth, via the Viking Orbiter relay system, and the spectra constructed, calibrated, and interpreted here. The instrument is inside the Lander body, and samples are to be delivered to it by the Viking Lander Surface Sampler. Calibration standards are an integral part of the instrument. The results of the investigation will characterize the surface materials of Mars as to elemental composition with accuracies ranging from a few tens of parts per million (at the trace-element level) to a few percent (for major elements) depending on the element in question. Elements of atomic number 11 or less are determined only as a group, though useful estimates of their individual abundances maybe achieved by indirect means. The expected radiation environment will not seriously hamper the measurements. Based on the results, inferences can be drawn regarding (1) the surface mineralogy and lithology; (2) the nature of weathering processes, past and present, and the question of equilibrium between the atmosphere and the surface; and (3) the extent and type of differentiation that the planet has undergone. The Inorganic Chemical Investigation supports and is supported by most other Viking Science investigations. ?? 1973.
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Inorganic chemical investigation by x-ray fluorescence analysis: The Viking Mars Lander