Mineral Identification and Composition Analyzer (MICA)
Funded by JPL
The Mineral Identification and Composition Analyzer (MICA) demonstrates a working brassboard of a miniaturized tool for in situ X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), and optical analyses on unprepared rocks accessed by a rover on Mars. MICA will automatically perform these non-destructive analyses to quickly determine the geological nature of samples, image the crystalline structure and appearance, and measure the elemental content. MICA data will be useful for analysis of regolith and rocks that are encountered during exploration of the Mars surface, and selection of unique and interesting samples for return to Earth.
MICA requires no sample acquisition or preparation, only that the instrument be in contact with the sample. A deep depletion charge coupled device (CCD) detects x-rays that interact with the mineral crystals and scatter throughout the 2-theta diffraction angle range from 20 to 70 degrees, and also measures the energy of x-rays generated from fluorescence of the contained elements.
An optical CCD imager with a white (broad-spectrum) LED light source for illumination of the sample is also included to provide visual information regarding the crystalline structure, color, appearance, and morphology of the analyzed sample.
The module contains data processing capabilities to discriminate between XRD and XRF data using measured x-ray energies. X-rays that have the same energy as the incident beam are scattered (XRD), and all lower energies are generated by fluorescence.