A compact, two-channel acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) camera is being built at GSFC as a candidate payload instrument for future Mars landers or small-body rendezvous missions. This effort is supported by the NASA Mars Instrument Development Program (MIDP), Office of Space Science Advanced Technologies and Mission Studies. Acousto-optic Imaging Spectrometer (AIMS) is electronically programmable and provides arbitrary spatial and spectral selection from 0.48 to 2.4 μm. The geometric throughput of AOTF's are well matched to the requirements for lander mounted cameras since (I) they can be made very compact, (II) "slow" (f/14-f/18) optics required for large depth-of-field fall well within the angular aperture limit of AOTF's, and (III) they operate at low ambient temperatures. A breadboard of the AIMS short-wavelength channel is now being used for spectral imaging of high-interest Mars analog materials (iron oxides, carbonates, sulfates and sedimentary basalts) as part of the initial instrument validation exercises. © 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.
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