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Center Innovation Fund: JSC CIF

In-Situ Water Vapor Probe for a Robot Arm-Mounted, Compact Water Vapor Analyzer

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This instrument could be utilized in both manned and unmanned missions to a wide range of high priority NASA mission targets including Mars, the Moon, and Near Earth Objects. It also can serve as a key component of an ISRU instrument package - providing in-situ prospecting. The applicability of this project to both science and ISRU makes this proposal directly responsive to the "New Tools of Discovery" and to the "Space Colonization" Grand Challenges. It is a novel technology that will be an essential tool in discovering the origin and abundance of water in the solar system. The discovery and understanding of H2O deposits throughout the solar system is a critical component of self-sufficient human settlement.

We propose to test a prototype water vapor sampling end-effector in the laboratory and in the field that will eventually be integrated with a small, infrared spectrometer developed through SBIR phase II funding for lunar, asteroid, or Martian exploration. The analyzer is capable of in-situ analysis of water- bearing materials on a millimeter scale providing high precision measurements of water abundance and isotopic composition. The high precision isotopic analysis will include D/H, 17O/16O, and 18O/16O. Water is central to NASA's strategic goals for exploration of the solar system and high precision isotopic analysis, especially of 17O, provides a key tool in answering fundamental scientific questions about its origin and history. In addition, these measurements can serve as an important component of ISRU operations helping to identify, characterize, understand, and predict the occurrence of volatile deposits.  

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