We are developing a miniature neutron‐alpha activation spectrometer for in‐situ analysis of chem‐bio samples, including rocks, fines, ices, and drill cores, suitable for a lander or Rover platform for Mars or outer‐planet missions. In the neutron‐activation mode, penetrating analysis will be performed of the whole sample using a γ spectrometer and in the α‐activation mode, the sample surface will be analyzed using Rutherford‐backscatter and x‐ray spectrometers. Novel in our approach is the development of a switchable radioactive neutron source and a small high‐resolution γ detector. The detectors and electronics will benefit from remote unattended operation capabilities resulting from our NEAR XGRS heritage and recent development of a Ge γ detector for MESSENGER. Much of the technology used in this instrument can be adapted to portable or unattended terrestrial applications for detection of explosives, chemical toxins, nuclear weapons, and contraband. © 2002 American Institute of Physic
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