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Spacecraft: Surface Operations: Instruments

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Mössbauer Spectrometer (MB)

Many of the minerals that formed rocks on Mars contain iron, and the soil is iron-rich. The Mössbauer Spectrometer is an instrument that was specially designed to study iron-bearing minerals. Because this science instrument is so specialized, it can determine the composition and abundance of these minerals to a high level of accuracy. This ability can also help us understand the magnetic properties of surface materials.

The Mössbauer Spectrometer sensor head is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It is one of four instruments mounted on the turret at the end of the rover arm. Its electronics are housed inside the body of the rover (in the Warm Electronics Box, or WEB). Measurements are taken by placing the instrument's sensor head directly against a rock or soil sample. One Mössbauer measurement takes about 12 hours.