This Remote Sensing Technique Could Offer Essential Planetary Data

A team of scientists from Brown University have joined forces and developed a new remote sensing technique for examining olivine.

Olivine is so essential because it can help scientists get a better idea of the early evolution of the Moon, Mars, and other planets. This component is also part of our planet’s mantle, so its significance is even bigger. 

The team’s work and findings are now available in a paper.

Here is what you need to know.

New Technique Insights

Scientists detected olivine on the surfaces of Mars and Moon in volcanic deposits and even in impact craters that shoot up matter from the subsurface. The element is essential mainly because it can tell something about the environment in which the minerals developed and the temperature, as well.

So, higher temperatures during evolution yield more iron. If scientists can detect those compositions, they will find more about how the interiors of those planets.

The team’s work

The team utilized a procedure named spectroscopy to study rocks on other planets. The scientists also relied on RELAB.

Particular components absorb or reflect various wavelengths of light to different degrees. By observing the light spectra a rock can absorb, scientists can find out which compounds are involved. 

RELAB, for instance, can realize very accurate spectral calculations of samples for which the composition is concluded already utilizing other lab procedures. 

Furthermore, the lab can offer ground data for interpreting spectral measurements captured by spacecraft when observing other planets. 

In searching through data from olivine samples analyzed over decades at RELAB, the team made quite the discovery.

The team’s findings

The scientists spotted something intriguing in a small swath of wavelengths, a tiny band between 4 and 8 microns.

The band can help scientists predict the amount of magnesium or iron in an olivine sample to approximately 10 % of the actual content. Christopher Kremer, the lead author of the new paper and a Ph. D. candidate at Brown University, released a statement about the olivine significance. He said:

“The olivine samples brought back during the Apollo program […] vary widely in magnesium composition. […] it could tells us something about the early evolution of the Moon.”

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