Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Powerful Mineral Mapper Headed to Mars

15.08.2005


APL-Built Spectrometer on NASA’s Latest Mission to the Red Planet



With today’s launch of NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars – or CRISM – joins the set of high-tech detectives seeking traces of water on the red planet.

Built by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., CRISM is the first visible-infrared spectrometer to fly on a NASA Mars mission. Its primary job: look for the residue of minerals that form in the presence of water, the “fingerprints” left by evaporated hot springs, thermal vents, lakes or ponds on Mars when water could have existed on the surface.


With unprecedented clarity, CRISM will map areas on the martian surface down to house-sized scales – as small as 60 feet (about 18 meters) across – when the spacecraft is in its average orbit altitude of about 190 miles (more than 300 kilometers).

“CRISM plays a very important role in Mars exploration,” says APL’s Dr. Scott Murchie, the instrument’s principal investigator. “Our data will identify sites most likely to have contained water, and which would make the best potential landing sites for future missions seeking fossils or even traces of life on Mars.”

Though certain landforms provide evidence that water may once have flowed on Mars, Murchie says scientists have little evidence of sites containing mineral deposits created by long-term interaction between water and rock. The NASA Rover Opportunity found evidence for liquid water in Meridian Planum – a large plain near Mars’ equator – but that is only one of many hundreds of sites where future spacecraft could land.

Peering through a telescope with a 4-inch (10-centimeter) aperture, and with a greater capability to map spectral variations than any similar instrument sent to another planet, CRISM will read 544 “colors” in reflected sunlight to detect minerals in the surface. Its highest resolution is about 20 times sharper than any previous look at Mars in infrared wavelengths.

“At infrared wavelengths, rocks that look absolutely the same to human eyes become very different,” Murchie says. “CRISM has the capability to take images in which different rocks will ‘light up’ in different colors.”

CRISM is mounted on a gimbal, allowing it to follow targets on the surface as the orbiter passes overhead. CRISM will spend the first half of a two-year orbit mission mapping Mars at 650-foot (200-meter) scales, searching for potential study areas. Several thousand promising sites will then be measured in detail at CRISM’s highest spatial and spectral resolution. CRISM will also monitor seasonal variations in dust and ice particles in the atmosphere, supplementing data gathered by the orbiter’s other instruments and providing new clues about the Martian climate.

“CRISM will improve significantly on the mapping technology currently orbiting Mars,” says CRISM Project Manager Peter Bedini, of APL. “We’ll not only look for future landing sites, but we’ll be able to provide details on information the Mars Exploration Rovers are gathering now. There is a lot more to learn, and after CRISM and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter there will still be more to learn. But with this mission we’re taking a big step in exploring and understanding Mars.”

As the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter cruises to its destination, the CRISM operations team continues to fine-tune the software and systems it will use to command the instrument and receive, read, process, and store a wealth of data from orbit – more than 10 terabytes when processed back on Earth, enough to fill more than 15,000 compact discs. The spacecraft is set to reach Mars next March, use aerobraking to circularize its orbit, and settle into its science orbit by November 2006.

APL, which has built more than 150 spacecraft instruments over the past four decades, led the effort to develop, integrate and test CRISM. CRISM’s co-investigators are top planetary scientists from Brown University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Northwestern University, Space Science Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Paris, the Applied Coherent Technology Corporation, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Ames Research Center and Johnson Space Center.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

Michael Buckley | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://crism.jhuapl.edu
http://www.jhuapl.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms
17.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht New functional principle to generate the „third harmonic“
16.02.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>