Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI), John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and Wesleyan University (WU) propose to develop the Venus In-Situ Mineralogy Reaction Array (VIMRA) Sensor Platform. VIMRA is a harsh environment sensor array suitable for measuring reactions of Venus gases with surface minerals using a platform which could be part of the science instrument payload for planetary landers such as the Long Lived In-Situ Solar System Explorer (LLISSE.) The platform will be developed to accommodate a variety of minerals of interest on the surface of Venus. In addition, VIMRA can be used on Venus simulation chambers such as NASA Glenn Extreme Environment Rig (GEER) for extended durations to support fundamental science.
The goal of Phase I is to develop and demonstrate the sensor platform operation in Venus simulated surface environments using the APL Venus Environment Chamber (AVEC). Phase I of the program will focus on design and demonstration of sensor material systems and sensing capability with several mineral types of interest for Venus. The electric measurements on the array of minerals could provide information on the type and rate of gas-solid reactions and thus constrain type and rate of atmospheric gas interactions with the minerals in the array. Prototype mineral sensors will be fabricated and tested in Phase I to demonstrate the technology to TRL 4 by testing in relevant laboratory conditions. In Phase II, the VIMRA sensor platform will be combined with SiC electronics to provide a high temperature capable payload suitable for extended operation on the surface of Venus. The proposed VIMRA will complement recent and ongoing efforts on the development of harsh environment instruments suitable for atmospheric analysis in future Venus missions, addressing a technology gap by developing sensors to monitor mineral/gas reactions.
VIMRA coupled with ongoing high temperature electronics development supports the Decadal Survey finding that the Venus In-situ Explorer mission is a New Frontiers high priority mission. VIMRA complements measurement systems targeted in the 2009 Venus Flagship Mission Study (e.g., GC-MS, nephelometers, cameras/optical detectors). The technology can be leveraged for less extreme environments (e.g. desiccated/hydrated minerals in Mars), other harsh environment planetary systems (Mercury), and long-term surface reactions (space weathering.)
Beyond, NASA, the technology can be used to determine material compatibility with reactive environments, and real time corrosion sensing in harsh gas environments such as molten salt bath headspace, combustors, and clean coal plants.