NASA SBIR 2022-I Solicitation

Proposal Summary

Proposal Information

Proposal Number:
22-1- S13.06-1962
Subtopic Title:
In Situ Instruments/Technologies and Plume Sampling Systems for Ocean Worlds Life Detection
Proposal Title:
Methane Isotopes Analyzer for Enceladus Plume Flythrough

Small Business Concern

Opto-Knowledge Systems, Inc. (OKSI)
19805 Hamilton Avenue, Torrance, CA 90502
(310) 756-0520                                                                                                                                                                                

Principal Investigator:

Jason Kriesel
19805 Hamilton Avenue, 90502 - 1341
(310) 756-0520                                                                                                                                                                                

Business Official:

Dr. Ilana Gat
19805 Hamilton Avenue, CA 90502 - 1341
(424) 757-9120                                                                                                                                                                                

Summary Details:

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :                                                                                                                                                          
Begin: 3
End: 4
Technical Abstract (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words):

We propose a low SWaP Capillary Absorption Spectrometer (CAS) to analyze Methane during an Enceladus plume flythrough. The system will contain a Plume Capture and Delivery System (PCDS) which transports plume molecules  to the CAS to be analyzed for 13C/12C carbon and D/H hydrogen isotope ratios. Although Enceladus’s plume is thought to have created Saturn’s E-ring, the plume particles are expected to be sparse at flythrough altitudes. With a very small sample, the CAS produces high-precision measurements, making it ideal for a plume flythrough. This proposed effort will design a PCDS and develop the CAS further to strengthen the D/H analysis with the constraints of relatively low-abundance of deuterated methane, along with the need to also measure 13C/12C isotopes jointly. The proposed measurements in an Enceladus plume flythrough would answer crucial questions about Enceladus’s methane origin, giving insight into the possibility of life on Enceladus. 

Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words):

Ocean worlds discovered pose an exciting possibility of finding habitable regions, and more information must be learned. The CAS   is a novel technology that analyzes small sample amounts to produce high precision data. This is imperative when traveling to a new planet/moon, where the flythrough environment is uncertain. The CAS can take measurements to guide future knowledge and missions with insight into the possibility of life on Enceladus. This technology is being proposed for Enceladus, however, could be extended for other worlds as well.

Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words):

By expanding the CAS capability to measure D/H ratios in methane, the technology will be attractive for a range of greenhouse gas and environmental sensing applications. In addition, there are energy related applications for the technology, specifically by enabling the improved analysis and characterization of underground geothermal sources and undersea hydrothermal seeps.

Duration:     6

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