NASA's need for technologies that improve upon state of the art spectrometer technology is detailed in the Science Instruments, Observatories, and Sensor Systems Roadmap. Specific programs listed in the Roadmap that would benefit from the potential of the technology to improve throughput while reducing the size and weight of spectrometers include the Discovery Program, New Frontiers 4, Mars 2018, and the Europa-Jupiter System Mission. Spectrometers for mineralogy that are compact, lightweight, and low power are listed as a priority for the long term time frame of 2023 and beyond, demonstrating the long term relevance of the proposed technology. The wide wavelength range over which the technology can be used, from the deep UV to the IR, further increases the wide range of current and future NASA programs to which the technology can be applied.
Users of spectrometers include academic, government, and industrial laboratories and research organizations. Manufacturers of process control equipment and environmental sensors, among others, incorporate spectrometers into their products. Improvements in spectrometer technology can therefore have wide ranging beneficial effects in advancing science, engineering, and manufacturing. The worldwide commercial opportunity is significant, estimated at $2.5 billion for the types of spectrometers that can be impacted by this project. In addition to the impact of the spectrometer technology, this project will also advance computational imaging, the discipline of using applied mathematics and computer science to boost the capabilities of optical systems.