Spectrometers employing acousto-optic tunable filters (AOTFs) are rapidly gaining popularity in space, and in particular on interplanetary missions. According to a paper published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “they allow for reducing volume, mass, and complexity of the instrumentation and are used for analyzing ocean color, greenhouse gases, atmospheres of Mars and Venus, and for lunar mineralogy. The AOTFs are used in point (pencil-beam) spectrometers for selecting echelle diffraction orders, or in hyper-spectral imagers and microscopes.”

 Spectrometers use direct observation of light—visible, ultraviolet, or infrared—to form images, to analyze the composition of atmospheric gases, or to determine the composition of rocks and soils. These sophisticated devices are composed of complex electronics, firmware, software, state-of-the-art signal processing algorithms, and a wide variety of technologies.

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