Our goal is to demonstrate that a guest species trapped in a solid noble gas matrix is a quiet environment for the manipulation of nuclear spins. Applications include studies of rare isotopes and tests of fundamental symmetries. We have studied the optical spectrum of ytterbium atoms embedded in a solid neon matrix with the goal of spin polarizing the Yb-171 nuclei via optical pumping. The optical spectrum of the embedded atoms resembles that of free atoms but with significantly matrix-shifted line-centers. And the spectral line-widths vary by at least two orders of magnitude depending on the nature of the transition. Although some of the transitions are nanometers wide, we have evidence that they are homogenous, which makes optical pumping feasible. In this talk, we'll present our most recent results and discuss our progress towards the optical pumping of Yb-171.