Modeling data of Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) for Mars 2020

IEEE International Conference on Space Mission Challenges for Information Technology

NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission is to study Mars’ habitability and seek signs of past microbial life. The mission uses an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer to identify chemical elements at sub-millimeter scales of the Mars surface. The instrument captures high spatial resolution observations comprised of several thousand individual measured points by raster-scanning an area of the rock surface. This paper will show how different methods, including linear regression, k-means clustering, image segmen- tation, similarity functions, and Euclidean distances, perform when analyzing datasets provided by the X-ray fluorescence spectrometer to assist scientists in understanding the distribution and abundance variations of chemical elements making up the scanned surface. We also created an interactive map to correlate the x-ray spectrum data with a visual image acquired by an RBG camera.