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Crime scene investigations using portable, non-destructive space exploration technology.

Authors
  • Trombka, Jacob I
  • Schweitzer, Jeffrey
  • Selavka, Carl
  • Dale, Mark
  • Gahn, Norman
  • Floyd, Samuel
  • Marie, James
  • Hobson, Maritza
  • Zeosky, Jerry
  • Martin, Ken
  • McClannahan, Timothy
  • Solomon, Pamela
  • Gottschang, Elyse
Type
Published Article
Journal
Forensic Science International
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Sep 10, 2002
Volume
129
Issue
1
Pages
1–9
Identifiers
PMID: 12230992
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASAs) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) have teamed up to explore the use of NASA developed technologies to help criminal justice agencies and professionals solve crimes. The objective of the program is to produce instruments and communication networks that have application within both NASA's space program and NIJ programs with state and local forensic laboratories. A working group of NASA scientists and law enforcement professionals has been established to develop and implement a feasibility demonstration program. Specifically, the group has focused its efforts on identifying gunpowder and primer residue, blood, and semen at crime scenes. Non-destructive elemental composition identification methods are carried out using portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) systems. These systems are similar to those being developed for planetary exploration programs. A breadboard model of a portable XRF system has been constructed for these tests using room temperature silicon and cadmium-zinc telluride (CZT) detectors. Preliminary tests have been completed with gunshot residue (GSR), blood-spatter and semen samples. Many of the element composition lines have been identified. Studies to determine the minimum detectable limits needed for the analyses of GSR, blood and semen in the crime scene environment have been initiated and preliminary results obtained. Furthermore, a database made up of the inorganic composition of GSR is being developed. Using data obtained from the open literature of the elemental composition of barium (Ba) and antimony (Sb) in handswipes of GSR, we believe that there may be a unique GSR signature based on the Sb to Ba ratio.

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