A system and method utilizes an image analysis approach for controlling the collection instrument-to-surface distance in a sampling system for use, for example, with mass spectrometric detection. Such an approach involves the capturing of an image of the collection instrument or the shadow thereof cast across the surface and the utilization of line average brightness (LAB) techniques to determine the actual distance between the collection instrument and the surface. The actual distance is subsequently compared to a target distance for re-optimization, as necessary, of the collection instrument-to-surface during an automated surface sampling operation.
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to UT-Battelle, LLC, and the Government has certain rights to the invention.