A Mössbauer spectrometer is a highly accurate instrument designed to study the composition and abundance of iron-bearing minerals, and the magnetic properties of surface materials. It is one of four instruments mounted on the arm of a rover. Its sensor head is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
At Mount Holyoke, astronomy and geology professor Darby Dyar and her student assistants are using their custom-built Mössbauer spectrometer to produce a database of “fingerprints” of different minerals likely to be found on Mars (and other planets and asteroids).
To learn more about the research being done by professor Dyar and her students, visit the Sciences area of our virtual tour.