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The ability to identify the mineral composition of rocks and softs is an important tool for the exploration of geological sites. For instance, NASA intends to design robots that are sufficiently autonomous to perform this task on planetary missions. Spectrometer readings provide one important source of data for identifying sites with minerals of interest. Reflectance spectrometers measure intensities of light reflected from surfaces over a range of wavelengths. Spectral intensity patterns may in some cases be sufficiently distinctive for proper identification of minerals or classes of minerals. For some mineral classes, carbonates for example, specific short spectral intervals are known to carry a distinctive signature. Finding similar distinctive spectral ranges for other mineral classes is not an easy problem. We propose and evaluate data-driven techniques that automatically search for spectral ranges optimized for specific minerals. In one set of studies, we partition the whole interval of wavelengths available in our data into sub-intervals, or bins, and use a genetic algorithm to evaluate a candidate selection of subintervals. As alternatives to this computationally expensive search technique, we present an entropy-based heuristic that gives higher scores for wavelengths more likely to distinguish between classes, as well as other greedy search procedures. Results are presented for four different classes, showing reasonable improvements in identifying some, but not all, of the mineral classes tested.


Proceedings of the 12 Conference on Knowledge Discovery in Databases Conference Proceeding

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