NASA’s Mineral Dust Detector instrument, EMIT, released it’s first view of Earth

NASA’s EMIT instrument under Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) recently provided its first view of the Earth. On the evening of 27 July, at 7:51 p.m PDT (10:51 PM EDT), the milestone called “first light” occurred while the space station passed over Western Australia. The EMIT instrument was installed on the exterior of the International Space Station. 

The EMIT instrument is NASA’s Mineral Dust Detector. It is meant to help answer questions on how mineral dust from Earth’s arid regions affects climate.  The instrument focuses on mapping the minera dust composition of the Earth’s arid regions to achieve the purpose. The instrument measures the hundreds of wavelengths of light reflected by various materials from Earth. An imaging spectrometer collects and analyzes the spectral fingerprint produced by the wavelengths. Researches then analyzes it and reveals what they are made of. 

The image achieved by the analysis results displayed a figure like an image cube. A mix of materials was shown in Western Australia, which was displayed on the front of the image cube. It also showcased exposed soil (represented as brown), vegetation (dark green), agricultural fields (light green), a small river and some clouds. The image cube also displayed rainbow colors which were spectral fingerprints from corresponding spots in the front image. 

The primary mission of EMIT will begin in August. The mission is to collect measurement of 10 important surface minerals in arid, dust producing regions of Africa, Asia, North and South America, and Australia.  The minerals are hematite, calcite, dolomite, gypsum and some others. The spectral fingerprints facilitates the identification of composition of dust minerals, which helps the scientists.