A University of Arizona researcher is cataloging the spectral fingerprints of all known minerals.

Robert Downs is using a Raman spectrometer and now has 1,500 of the 4,000 minerals in his data base.

A colleague, M. Bonner Denton, is developing a pocket-size spectrometer that can be used on the 2009 Mars Rover to determine the minerals on that planet. The same technology can be used for handheld instruments on earth.

We’re developing a tricorder, Downs said, referring to the instruments the crew of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek used to analyze the chemical composition of the planets they visited.

Denton and Downs will be giving presentations on their work on Sunday at the 57th Annual Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy in Orlando, Fla.

The image “http://www.space.com/images/h_tricorder-detail_03.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Star Trek’s version of the Tricorder