A new chemical probe determines the properties of an analyte using the light absorption of the products of a reagent/analyte reaction. The probe places a small reaction volume in contact with a large analyte volume. Analyte diffuses into the reaction volume. Reagent is selectively supplied to the reaction volume. The light absorption of the reaction in the reaction volume indicates properties of the original analyte. The probe is suitable for repeated use in remote or hostile environments. It does not require physical sampling of the analyte or result in significant regent contamination of the analyte reservoir.