Do you have a tricorder to spare for NASA?

July 19, 2017 | 00:00
One of four instruments researchers are testing for use on Mars. (Image: NASA)
 
One of four instruments researchers are testing for use on Mars. (Image: NASA)
 
For an upcoming manned mission to Mars, NASA has asked attendees if they could build and supply a geological tricorder please. NASA popped the question at the recent Sensors Expo exhibition.

NASA currently has four portable scientific instruments weighing about 21 pounds. They do a reasonable job, but there’s room for improvement, and they are tad heavy.
“We’d like to have multiple instruments in one. Can we build this thing?" asked Alexander Sehlke, a research fellow in the BASALT project at NASA Ames, speaking in a keynote at Sensors Expo.

As part of its work, the team has identified several requirements for their Martian power tools. For example, besides being light and small, they should capture high-quality data. That’s not easy given that they need to interact with jagged rocks, identifying elements sometimes in 5 mm crannies where contacts are poor and signal reflections are abundant.
 
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