Makel Engineering, Inc., John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and Wesleyan University 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). Phase I of the program focused on design and demonstration of sensor material systems and sensing capability with several mineral types of interest for Venus. such as anhydrite, calcite, augite (pyroxene), olivine, albite (feldspar), hematite, magnetite, pyrite, apatite, cassiterite, gold. The Phase II deliverable VIMRA system can be used on Venus simulation chambers such as NASA Glenn Extreme Environment Rig (GEER) and Mini-GEER for extended durations to support fundamental mineralogy science. Phase I demonstrated pure mineral sample sensor platforms suitable for real-time, in-situ measurement of changes in electrical properties of the samples due to reaction with Venus type atmospheric gases. Phase I also demonstrated the capability of VIMRA as a component suitable for an in-situ instrument that could provide information on the type and rate of gas-solid type reactions by monitoring an array of minerals and thus constrain type and rate of atmospheric gas interactions with selected minerals. The proposed VIMRA sensor platform 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. In Phase II, the platform will be combined with silicon electronics to facilitate demonstration. Follow on integration of SiC electronics will provide a high temperature capable payload suitable for extended operation on the surface of Venus.
The primary application is to enable in-situ monitoring of gas-mineral reaction chemistry in Venus atmosphere. In addition, the sensor platform can be used to monitor mineralogy in any planetary bodies, and can support in-situ analysis of soil sources that may be used for in situ resource utilization (ISRU).
The VIMRA sensor platform combined with high temperature SiC electronics is suitable as a low-cost approach for in-situ evaluation of protective coatings (oxidation resistance materials, ceramics, nanomaterials) for these applications. A commercial version of the technology could be used for both test and evaluation or as permanent in-situ monitoring in power generation and conversion systems.