We propose the development of a new instrumentation based on a concept for trace-gas and isotope analysis that utilizes a priority hollow fiber as a low-volume, compact gas cell. An analyte is drawn into the fiber, which has a reflective inner coating that guides a tunable laser beam to a detector. There is near unity overlap between the laser beam and the gas sample, leading to a highly sensitive system with an ultra-compact size. In Phase I, a breadboard system will be assembled, and proof-of-concept measurements conducted to demonstrate the ability to effectively measure isotope ratios in water. In addition, various concepts appropriate for planetary sampling will be evaluated. Based on the investigations, specific techniques and components will be down selected and risk mitigation strategies developed, culminating with the design of a prototype that will be fully developed and demonstrated in Phase II.
The development of the proposed in situ instrument is applicable to NASA’s planetary science goals summarized in the Planetary Decadal Survey. Such instruments and technologies will play a crucial role for NASA missions to various celestial bodies. This includes addressing two of NASA’s major themes: (1) understanding solar system beginnings and (2) searching for the requirements for life.
Sensors resulting from this project will provide an extremely attractive alternative to isotope analyzers. The ability to obtain high-quality isotope data with a small SWaP sensor is appealing for a range of environmental monitoring applications including but not limited to drone-borne sensing and unattended field monitoring.