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Center Independent Research & Development: KSC IRAD

Electrostatic Spectrometer for Mars Rover Wheel (WES)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Develop a simple electrostatic spectrometer that can be mounted on the wheels of a Mars rover to continuously and unobtrusively determine the mineral composition and water content of the Martian soil. By constantly and passively sampling the soil, we expect that the spectrometer will be able to identify the presence of minerals of interest. Mission scientists can use this information to determine where to stop the rover and deploy the specialized spectrometers that require sample collection, such as the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer on MSL. Earlier electrostatic sensors developed in our laboratory showed feasibility of differentiating wet and dry Mars simulant. With the proposed sensors, we expect to be able to differentiate minerals by studying the electrostatic spectrum generated.

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