MEMBERS: Hannah Munguia-Flores (Lead), Allison Kubo (Chief Science Officer), Humberto Arzate, Cindy Ayala, Camille Patricia Beltran, Ragahv Chanchani, Rachel Duncan, Janessa Duque, Jimena Garcia-Prieto, Eyvonne Hu, Jeffrey Herbert, Aliya Kassam, Karie Madrid, Jimin Mun, Chloe Munguia-Flores, Andy Pabst, Abigail del Rosario, Steven Salazar, Alex Smith, Cara Spencer, Euan Tan, Anthony Tran, Vanessa Tran, Si Wu

The Instruments sub-team, affectionately dubbed “Team Astrogen” because of its almost all-women team, has been working on a number of projects. The Science Cache task of the University Rover Challenge requires teams to collect samples at designated sites and evaluate the soil’s qualities in order to determine if microbial life can be supported.

One of our rover’s offboard instruments will be a Raman spectrometer, which will aid the Instruments sub-team in determining if there are specific minerals in a soil sample taken. Spectrometry uses principles of light reflection and excitation. By shining a laser at a soil sample and then using a series of lenses and diffraction gradients, we can identify specific wavelengths and intensities of light and form a spectrum. Because different materials correspond with unique wavelengths and intensities, the spectrum can be used to identify minerals within an unknown sample.

Instruments team members hope to find evaporitic minerals, or minerals that form when water dries up. These include jarosite, gypsum, selenite, salt, and calcite. By finding evaporitic minerals, Instruments team members would have evidence of water that previously existed on the surface of Mars.

(Picture from sciencemadness.org)

(Picture from sciencemadness.org)

Calcite, an example of an evaporitic mineral that could be found in a soil sample

Calcite, an example of an evaporitic mineral that could be found in a soil sample