College of Science and Mathematics
BS in Physics
As the Earth’s resources are diminishing, it has become clear that the human race needs to find alternative resources and replenish the Earth’s natural reservoir. One way to do this is to consider interstellar objects. Interstellar objects, such as asteroids, offer mineral and other resources with great potential for mining. Before considering mining a rocky body, it is imperative to first know the complete composition of an object. Using the method of traveling to the objects, drilling into them, and bringing back samples is impractical, inefficient, and expensive. This method is also limiting, as only certain target areas of the body can be brought back and analyzed. A method to collect composition data remotely becomes almost necessary. One method to do so is to use remote laser evaporative molecular absorption spectroscopy sensor system, or R-LEMA. R-LEMA uses a high-power laser source to heat up and evaporate a rocky body. The molten material provides an infrared blackbody source to backlight evaporated material. An absorption spectrum can be taken for compositional analysis. The laser can be locked on to one target location on a body, and probe deep into the body, providing data on the entirety of the object. This paper will describe an experimental set up for R-LEMA, compare R-LEMA to other methods with similar goals, and provide results from performed R-LEMA experiments. R-LEMA will be validated, and future development of the system will be described.