A conventional X-ray diffraction instrument (left) is the size of a large refrigerator, in contrast to the compact size of the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument on NASA's Curiosity rover (top right) and the spin-off commercial portable instrument (lower right, orange case). Both of the more compact X-ray diffraction instruments were made possible by NASA technology innovations. The CheMin instrument is a cube of about 10 inches (25 centimeters) on each side. It is shown here in the red circle as technicians install it on the rover in the cleanroom at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built Curiosity and CheMin.