Fitting the curve in Excel®: Systematic curve fitting of laboratory and remotely sensed planetary spectra

Michael A. McCraig, Gordon R. Osinski, Edward A. Cloutis, Roberta L. Flemming, Matthew R.M. Izawa, Vishnu Reddy, Sherry K. Fieber-Beyer, Loredana Pompilio, Freek van der Meer, Jeffrey A. Berger, Michael S. Bramble, Daniel M. Applin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Spectroscopy in planetary science often provides the only information regarding the compositional and mineralogical make up of planetary surfaces. The methods employed when curve fitting and modelling spectra can be confusing and difficult to visualize and comprehend. Researchers who are new to working with spectra may find inadequate help or documentation in the scientific literature or in the software packages available for curve fitting. This problem also extends to the parameterization of spectra and the dissemination of derived metrics. Often, when derived metrics are reported, such as band centres, the discussion of exactly how the metrics were derived, or if there was any systematic curve fitting performed, is not included. Herein we provide both recommendations and methods for curve fitting and explanations of the terms and methods used. Techniques to curve fit spectral data of various types are demonstrated using simple-to-understand mathematics and equations written to be used in Microsoft Excel® software, free of macros, in a cut-and-paste fashion that allows one to curve fit spectra in a reasonably user-friendly manner. The procedures use empirical curve fitting, include visualizations, and ameliorates many of the unknowns one may encounter when using black-box commercial software. The provided framework is a comprehensive record of the curve fitting parameters used, the derived metrics, and is intended to be an example of a format for dissemination when curve fitting data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-114
Number of pages12
JournalComputers and Geosciences
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Asteroids
  • Curve deconvolution
  • Curve fitting
  • Data reduction techniques
  • Mars
  • Mineralogy
  • Modelling
  • Spectral analysis
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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