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Planetary Instrument Concepts for the Advancement of Solar System Observations

The Small Bodies / Icy Moon Penetrator Organic Analyzer (SB/IM-POA): Early TRL Development of a Robust Microfluidic Instrument for Raman, UV-Vis and Fluorescence Spectroscopy on Kinetic Penetrator Missions

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The Small Bodies / Icy Moon Penetrator Organic Analyzer (SB/IM-POA): Early TRL Development of a Robust Microfluidic Instrument for Raman, UV-Vis and Fluorescence Spectroscopy on Kinetic Penetrator Missions
Optical measurements are incorporated in state-of-the-art organic analytical instruments. Absorbance provides information on high concentration species, while fluorescence is a highly sensitive technique for low concentration species, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and functionalized organic compounds like amines and amino acids. These organics are ubiquitous in primitive matter in the solar system, and thus their relative abundances on a small body or icy world can significantly inform upon chemical and physical processes there. Instruments for a planetary mission must adhere to stringent requirements, including low mass, volume, and power consumption. If the mission includes a landed component, tolerance to high g-loads may be required, particularly when the landed component is a kinetic penetrator. We propose a fully autonomous UV-Vis / fluorescence instrument microfabricated as a monolithic stack to reduce mass and volume while enhancing robustness to high g loads. The proposed design is 75 mm diameter x 40 mm, has a mass of less than 250 g, and max power consumption less than 1 W. The innovation is in two parts: (1) integrated optics and (2) hydraulic microvalves. Integration of optical components and a sample cell into a single monolithic instrument minimizes mass and volume and permanently aligns optics precisely during assembly, enhancing impact robustness. Hydraulically-actuated monolithic membrane microvalves, as opposed to state-of-the-art pneumatically-actuated monolithic membrane microvalves, can be operated under high pressure or near-vacuum conditions without a controlled-pressure envelope, dramatically increasing the scope of potential space-based applications. Additionally, the incorporation of an incompressible fluid on either side of the membrane enhances robustness to high g loads. We will build an integrated optical system, entry TRL 1-2. We will demonstrate the integrated optical system on relevant analogues, including Antarctic ice cores, and subject it to physical testing including high g loads and reduced temperature, thus increasing exit component TRL to 4+. We will also build the hydraulic microvalve system, entry TRL 1-2, and conduct similar testing to elevate its component TRL to 4+. In the final year we will integrate the components and conduct a full-scale test of the system on relevant samples to elevate system exit TRL to 4+. More »

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