NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:05 S2.01-8127
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Science Instruments for Conducting Solar System Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE:Miniaturized, Low Power Cryogenic Inlet System with Sampling Probes for Titan

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
THORLEAF RESEARCH, INC.
5552 Cathedral Oaks Road
Santa Barbara ,CA 93111 - 1406
(805) 692 - 4978

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Paul M. Holland
pholland@thorleaf.com
5552 Cathedral Oaks Road
Santa Barbara, CA  93111 -1406
(805) 692 - 4978

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
Thorleaf Research, Inc. proposes to develop a miniature, low power cryogenic inlet system with sampling probes for Titan. This addresses a key technology gap for planetary studies, mainly how to acquire and prepare complex cryogenic samples of astrobiology interest for in situ analysis while meeting challenging mass, volume and power constraints. Although miniaturized mass spectrometers and other low power instruments are under development by NASA for in situ measurements, the great potential of such instrumentation for exploration of the Solar System will not be realized without complementary developments in the technology for collecting and preparing samples for analysis. Our proposed approach is designed to collect surface samples at Titan's 94K (-179C) cryogenic temperatures using probe designs both for surface penetration and for collecting dust or particles. The samples, which are presumed to include hydrocarbons, nitriles, tholins and other materials, can then be pyrolysed or otherwise thermally processed to prepare them for chemical analysis by GC/MS, GC/IMS or other techniques. The goal of our proposed SBIR Phase I effort is to demonstrate feasibility for a miniature, low power cryogenic inlet system with sampling probes, and to develop a detailed design for fabricating prototype instrumentation in Phase II.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
Future missions to the surface of Titan are likely to depend on Aerorover platforms for mobility. Since aerorover exploration vehicles depend on buoyancy in the atmosphere, this will severely limit payload and stresses the importance of developing new miniaturized, very low mass and power technology for future Titan missions. Thorleaf Research believes it will be possible to develop the proposed cryogenic inlet system with pyrolyser probe at a mass of about 100g, only a few percent of the mass of the Aerosol Collector Pyrolyser system of the Huygens probe. This will provide key enabling technology to help meet needs for future NASA New Frontiers (or other) missions to Titan. Our sampling inlet system will be especially useful when coupled to miniature GC/MS and GC/IMS technology, currently under development at NASA/JPL and NASA/ARC. The modular design also ensures it can be used with other detectors of interest to NASA.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
Analysis of commercial instrumentation markets shows that two of the three major growth areas for analytical instrumentation are real-time analysis and environmental monitoring, with projected annual growth rates of more than 15%. Our modular design approach for the low power cryogenic inlet system with sampling probes will help it be adapted for measurement needs in scientific, energy exploration and environmental monitoring applications. Thus, technical developments in the proposed program could have a significant market impact.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING
Biochemical
Instrumentation
Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems


Form Printed on 09-19-05 13:12