Experimental Astronomy

, Volume 36, Issue 1–2, pp 175–193 | Cite as

WatSen: design and testing of a prototype mid-IR spectrometer and microscope package for Mars exploration

  • S. D. Wolters
  • J. K. Hagene
  • A. T. Sund
  • A. Bohman
  • W. Guthery
  • B. T. Sund
  • A. Hagermann
  • T. Tomkinson
  • J. Romstedt
  • G. H. Morgan
  • M. M. Grady
Original Article


We have designed and built a compact breadboard prototype instrument called WatSen: a combined ATR mid-IR spectrometer, fixed-focus microscope, and humidity sensor. The instrument package is enclosed in a rugged cylindrical casing only 26 mm in diameter. The functionality, reliability and performance of the instrument was tested in an environment chamber set up to resemble martian surface conditions. The effective wavelength range of the spectrometer is 6.2–10.3 μm with a resolution Δλ/λ = 0.015. This allows detection of silicates and carbonates, including an indication of the presence of water (ice). Spectra of clusters of grains < 1 mm across were acquired that are comparable with spectra of the same material obtained using a commercial system. The microscope focuses through the diamond ATR crystal. Colour images of the grains being spectroscopically analysed are obtainable with a resolution of ∼20 μm.


Water Sensor Mars Infra-red Spectrometer Microscope 



The work was funded under contract to the European Space Agency to the Open University; ESTEC CONTRACT No 20623/07/NL/NR (WatSen microscope), to Norsk Elektro Optikk AS. We thank an anonymous reviewer for their insightful suggestions on how to improve this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. D. Wolters
    • 1
  • J. K. Hagene
    • 2
  • A. T. Sund
    • 3
  • A. Bohman
    • 1
  • W. Guthery
    • 1
  • B. T. Sund
    • 3
  • A. Hagermann
    • 1
  • T. Tomkinson
    • 1
  • J. Romstedt
    • 4
  • G. H. Morgan
    • 1
  • M. M. Grady
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Physical SciencesThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Norsk Elektro Optikk ASLørenskogNorway
  3. 3.NavSys ASOsloNorway
  4. 4.ESA/ESTEC Keplerlaan 1NoordwijkThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of MineralogyThe Natural History MuseumLondonUK

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