Follow The Rocks
Every day, new Rock Around the World mail arrives at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University from across the globe. Sometimes there are only a few packages, and sometimes there are hundreds of packages!
We give each rock a Rock Around The World (RATW) number which is comprised of the date we received the rock and its own 5-digit ID number.
The rock goes into its own, labeled bag.
Next we put all of the information received from each person into our database of RATW participants.
The rocks then go into the spectrometer laboratory, where each waits its turn to be analyzed.
The night before each rock is ready to be analyzed, it spends 8 hours in the oven. The reason we do this is to make sure that there is no moisture in the rock. This allows the spectrometer to give us better, more accurate readings. We also want to make sure that the rocks are a constant temperature.
A spectrum is taken of the rock. This data is calibrated to make sure it is accurate. It then gets recorded in a notebook.
This spectral data is used to produce the "squiggly line graph" that is then put on the Rock Around The World website.
A picture is taken of each rock.
This is where the rocks first ended up...in Dr. Christensen's office.
Now, each rock is carefully filed away for scientists to use as they explore Mars.