Scientists from the Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics (ATAP) Division have teamed up with researchers from NASA to develop a powerful imaging tool for probing the surface composition of planets.

The three-year project, “INSPECT3R: In Situ, Nuclear Spectrometer with 3D Resolution,” is supported by funding from NASA’s Planetary Instrument Concepts for the Advancement of Solar System Observations program. It aims to develop the next generation of nuclear spectrometers capable of imaging (in three dimensions) the surface’s elemental composition as part of future landed missions to other planets.

The INSPECT3R is based on a technique called Associated Particle Imaging (API), which uses neutrons and gamma rays to create three-dimensional images of the elemental composition of objects.

The technology will solve many limitations in current planetary spectrometers, explains Arun Persaud, a staff scientist at ATAP’s Fusion Science & Ion Beam Technology Program, who has extensive experience designing and using API systems and is leading ATAP’s contribution to the project. “For example, the API systems we have been developing at ATAP can account for the background radiation, which is a major source of uncertainty in the signals measured by existing spectrometers.”

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Berkeley Lab and NASA to Develop Next-Generation Planetary Probes
August 23, 2023 / Carl A. Williams / ATAP News