This proposal addresses the need for spacecraft microbial monitoring for long duration human missions. The proposal will lead to a near-real-time in-situ reagentless sensor on the International Space Station (ISS) and for future spacecraft for human missions for detection and quantification of the microbial bioburden in potable water, air, and on surfaces. The MAIA (Microbial Assessment with In-situ Autofluorescence) instrument mitigates the challenges of current microbial detection methods being used by enabling an in-line, autonomous, reagentless method, with detection sensitivities down to a single microbial cell, and require minimal crew time. MAIA also limits the number of consumables needed for long duration missions.
During the Phase 1 proposal we will migrate the MAIA methodology from TRL 2 to TRL 3 in six months. The effort will capitalize on current deep UV instrumentation at Photon Systems to demonstrate and verify MAIAs microbial detection and quantification. The deep UV methodology has been previously shown to enable microbial detection and quantification and differentiability for bacterial cells, spores, and fungi. This Phase 1 effort will demonstrate this capability in the proposed sampling and analysis implementation using the water, air, and surface modules with controlled lab generated microbial samples. These results will reduce the overall development risk as well as further refine the implementation and specific parameters of the MAIA instrument and modules that will be developed in Phase 2.
For the NASA related market opportunity associated with this SBIR proposal, Current methods of microbial monitoring are extensive and time-consuming. This technology will enable microbial monitoring for long duration human exploration for water, air, and surface analysis using a deep UV Raman and fluorescence as an in-line and autonomous soluiton.
The non-NASA commercial applications include microbial water monitoring waste water treatment plants, pharmaceutical industries, microbial air monitoring in clean rooms and hospitals, and microbial detection for hazard from biological threats. Current methods are extensive and time-consuming. MAIA is game-changing as it provides autonomous analysis in a manner that is presently unavailable.