A laboratory technique for thermal emission measurement of hydrated minerals

A. M. Baldridge, Philip Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Laboratory emission spectra are measured at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility for comparison to remotely sensed data from Earth and Mars. Such emission spectroscopy using an interferometric spectrometer measures the energy of the sample, including reflected and emitted background sources. The detector is uncooled at ambient temperature, which produces a very low signal when measuring the energy from a sample that has a temperature close to its own. In order to increase the energy difference between the sample and the detector, thereby increasing the signal received by the detector, samples are typically heated to between 60 and 80 °C for several hours prior to measurement. While this method is acceptable for most rock and mineral samples, some hydrous minerals dehydrate quickly at low relative humidity and temperatures above room temperature. This change is evident in both the physical appearance of the mineral and in the position and shape of its spectral absorptions. One solution to this problem is to heat samples to lower temperatures (e.g., 40 °C) for only a short time period. However, this approach results in a low signal from the sample and does not always avoid dehydration. For this reason, we have developed a technique for measuring and calibrating emission spectra of hydrated minerals that involves cooling samples to well below the temperature of the detector, which avoids dehydration, while creating a large delta temperature and a strong signal from the sample. Our method allows for accurate library spectra, with discrete, pronounced spectral features (high spectral contrast), of hydrated minerals that can be used for comparison to planetary surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-688
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Spectroscopy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Emission spectroscopy
  • Hydrous minerals
  • Mars
  • Remote sensing
  • Thermal infrared spectroscopy
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy


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