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Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES)

NSSDCA ID: 2003-027A-03

Mission Name: Spirit
Principal Investigators:Dr. Steven W. Squyres
Principal Investigators:Prof. Philip R. Christensen


The Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) is a compact infrared spectrometer designed to determine the mineralogy of rocks and soils from a distance by measuring their patterns of thermal radiation. It will also take spectra from the atmosphere of Mars to provide information on dust, water vapor, and temperature. Mini-TES is located in the body of the rover at the base of the Pancam Mast Assembly. The Pancam Mast holds a viewing port with a scan mirror at the same level as the Panoramic Camera assembly, 1.3 meters above the ground. Light goes through the viewing port, reflects off the scan mirror and enters the mast, which is built like a periscope, reflecting the light down to a telescope at the base of the mast and on to the spectrometer.

Mini-TES is based on a Michelson interferometer design which covers the wavelength range from 5-29 micrometers (2000 - 345 cm-1) with a scan resolution of 10 cm-1. The field of view can be alternated between 8 and 20 mrad. The mast can turn a full 360 degrees and the scan mirror ranges from -50 degrees to +30 degrees in elevation. These are sequenced to provide a raster image of the scene. The telescope at the base of the mast is a reflecting Cassegrain with a 6.35 cm mirror and a focal ratio of f/12. The approximately collimated beam is fed from the telescope to the 980-nm interferometer which generates interference fringes. The instrument uses a single uncooled deuterated triglycine pyroelectric detector. A signal-to-noise ratio of 450 or better will result from co-addition of two observations. An internal (inside the head of the Pancam Mast Assembly) and external (on the rover deck) targets are also available to provide calibration between or during image scans. The mini-TES will operate primarily during mid-day (between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. local time), but may also operate at night to obtain diurnal cycle temperature information.

Alternate Names

  • MiniTES
  • Spirit/MiniTES
  • urn:nasa:pds:context:instrument:mini-tes.mer2

Facts in Brief

Mass: 2.1 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Prof. Raymond E. ArvidsonDeputy Principal InvestigatorWashington
Prof. Philip R. ChristensenLead InvestigatorArizona State
Dr. Steven W. SquyresPrincipal InvestigatorCornell

Selected References

  • Christensen, P. R., et al., Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer for the Mars Exploration Rovers, J. Geophys. Res., 108, No. E12, 8064, doi:10.1029/2003JE002117, 2003.
  • Christensen, P. R., et al., Initial results from the Mini-TES experiment in Gusev crater from the Spirit rover, Science, 305, No. 5685, 837-842, Aug. 2004.
  • Ruff, S. W., et al., The rocks of Gusev Crater as viewed by the Mini-TES instrument, J. Geophys. Res., 111, E12S18, doi:10.1029/2006JE002747, 2006.
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