Surface Composition by Spectroscopy
YOUR NIFTY SPECTRUM DECODER PAGE
The spectroscopy light is caused by electrons. The more energy they have, the faster they move. It's like the playground effect. The more sweets or sugar you eat, the more you get hyper and energetic. When recess is over, you perspire and sweat. Electrons act just like that. When they slow down, they give off light in a spectrum.
If you want to find out what chemicals are in the surface, you first need to send a lander to your target and scoop some surface material. Then you have to send a retriever probe so it picks up the lander and carries it back to Earth.
Next you have to know what color lines stand for like (this is an example and it's not real) 2 red line 1 green, 4 blue, 1 indigo, and 3 violets. Those colors will stand for a chemical like helium. To see its color lines, you must heat the material up to a VERY HIGH temperature so it turns to gas.
Scientists and chemistry teachers use a spectrum tube. In a tube, it has different kinds of chemicals in gas form. Then you can get a spectrometer or a prism to see what colors it's made up of. Next you must know what chemical the colors stand for.
You could also use a flame test to see solid or liquid chemicals, that you heat to a gas. Different chemicals give off different colors. These are flame tests that we did at Moanalua High School with Mrs. Charlene Higa. You can sort of see different colors as the chemicals are put in the flame.
Download Real Player to view these videos!
There is also a special computer that counts and separates each color line. So if NASA found out the sun is made of two chemicals, the computer would look at the 2 different chemicals and add them.
I got some of this information from: the Bishop Museum and Charlene Higa (Chemistry teacher at Moanalua High School)