Mars' atmosphere analyzing sensor could help cut Earth's greenhouse emissions
Researchers have developed a new portable device that promises a greener future by readily analysing the composition of gases, solids and liquids using the light they emit.
Space scientist Hugh Mortimer and his partner Jolyon Tidmarsh's invention was originally designed to fly on future Mars probes, this little device is so sturdy it can withstand some of the harshest conditions on Earth, making it ideal for measuring air quality and roadside vehicle emissions, detecting gas leaks and monitoring industrial chemical processes.
Its size makes it especially suited to fly on aerial drones for mapping theground below or monitoring colour variations in crops for more efficient use of pesticides and fertilisers.
Such 'spectroscopes' split up incoming light into its individual colours, with the unique pattern revealing the composition of the source. On Earth, they are already commonplace in food production and industry to determine the composition and purity of substances, as well as in the medical world to 'sniff' a patient and help diagnose illness.
The device consists of only three static parts: two mirrors and an optical element that splits the light beam in two.
It can measure all kinds of light from ultraviolet to infrared. It is particularly sensitive because it was built to detect tiny traces of many different gases in the martian atmosphere in one sweep.
(Posted on 15-04-2014)