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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Miniature Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer for In-Situ Resource Utilization

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Miniature Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer for In-Situ Resource Utilization

In situ resource utilization (ISRU) is essential for several of NASA's future flagship missions. Currently envisioned ISRU plants include production of oxygen from hydrogen reduction of lunar regolith and extraction of water from Martian regolith or asteroid material. NASA's Regolith & Environmental Science and Oxygen & Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE) mission's objectives are to analyze the distribution of volatile compounds in the lunar surface and to demonstrate ISRU operation on the moon. To support ISRU activities, NASA requires the development of a compact, lightweight gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer (GC/MS) instrument that can quantify volatile gases with masses below atomic number 70 released by sample heating. The instrument must also be designed to withstand exposure to the release of HF, HCl, or Hg that may result from heating regolith samples to high temperatures. Creare proposes to design, build, and test a compact, lightweight GC/MS system capable of detecting, identifying, and quantifying 100 ppm to 100%-level concentrations of relevant compounds having mass less than 70 amu. Our GC/MS design is based on components that can be space qualified using techniques proven on numerous past space hardware development projects. During the Phase I project, we proved our design with benchtop testing, and in Phase II, we plan to build a brassboard version of our GC/MS that will meet the important performance requirements for the intended application.

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