This graph or spectrum taken by the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer onboard the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows the variety of elements present in the soil at the rover's landing site. In agreement with past missions to Mars, iron and silicon make up the majority of the martian soil. Sulfur and chlorine were also observed as expected. Trace elements detected for the first time include zinc and nickel. These latter observations demonstrate the power of the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to pick up the signatures of elements too faint to be seen before. The alpha particle X-ray spectrometer uses alpha particles and X-rays to measure the presence and abundance of all major rock-forming elements except hydrogen.


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