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  • MIA project makes NASA pitch

Photonics Spectra
Dec 2013
A science instrumentation project called MIA (Miniature In-Situ Analyzer) seeks to develop a next-generation geochemical, mineralogical and petrological analysis tool for NASA’s PICASSO program, which will send landers and rovers to collect samples from planets and near-Earth objects.

MIA has applications on Earth and in space, said MIA team member N-Science Corp. of Golden, Colo. Other members include the Space Science Institute, Catholic University of America, Lockheed Martin, Colorado School of Mines, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of New Mexico.

MIA combines x-ray diffraction and x-ray fluorescence with a compact x-ray source and dual CCD detectors as well as a dual x-ray analyzer with an optical microimager and a compact Raman spectrometer. Unlike earlier techniques, it has the advantage of not needing complex, energy-consuming, high-risk sample preparation techniques that involve destroying the original sample.


GLOSSARY
raman spectroscopy
That branch of spectroscopy concerned with Raman spectra and used to provide a means of studying pure rotational, pure vibrational and rotation-vibration energy changes in the ground level of molecules. Raman spectroscopy is dependent on the collision of incident light quanta with the molecule, inducing the molecule to undergo the change.  
x-ray diffraction
The bending of x-rays by the regular layers of molecules in a crystal acting like a very small diffraction grating. The diffraction pattern so obtained and recorded on film provides a means for analyzing the crystal structure.  
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