The proposed "lab-on-a-robot" technology has great potential for NASA in-situ planetary and small body surface chemistry studies. In particular, the mobile platform in conjunction with the contactless conductivity detection is ideally suited for simultaneous inorganic ion detection and analysis complementary to the "lab-on-a-chip" miniaturization of MECA's wet chemistry laboratory at JPL. The successful research effort will result in reduction in size, weight, power consumption, and cost of in-situ space probes. In addition, the proposed technology can also be used for on-chip biosensors, electrochemical sensors, on-chip sample separations, reactions, derivatizations, as well as for fluid positioning, mixing, metering, storage, and filtering systems, clinical diagnostics, spacecraft and biosphere environmental monitoring, and toxicology studies.
The proposed "lab-on-a-robot" has broader commercial applications including monitoring environmental pollutants that are a potential concern for human health on Earth. The proposed technology is particularly relevant to in-situ analysis of environmental samples because currently the samples have to be physically acquired, transported, and then processed in the laboratory. Exposure of personnel to untested environments, sample degradation, contamination, and labor-intensive analytical protocols obviate the necessity for testing systems capable of performing on-site analysis and transmit the results autonomously. Compared with conventional laboratory based measurement techniques, the in-situ measurement capability of our portable platform offers important advantages including reduction in time and cost, real-time data for better and more timely decision making, and reduction in sample consumption.