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Portable spectroscopic scanning electron microscope on ISS: in situ nanostructural/chemical analysis for critical vehicle systems, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

We will construct a novel field-portable miniature analytical electron microscope (EM+EDS) called Mochii "S" for in situ sensing in harsh/remote environments such as orbital and deep space flight. This lightweight, ISS-ready nano-analyzer will provide direct observation and chemical identification of the fine structure and correlated function of materials, contaminants, and biological agents down to the nanoscale. Nanostructural and spectrostropic analyses -- key ground capabilities -- can for the first time be launched with exploration vehicles and operated in-situ by virtue of unprecedented (10-100x) volume and weight reduction over traditional ground-based advanced analytical tools. Benefits include zero-latency nanoscale diagnosis and evolution tracking of previously invisible mission threats (i.e., presenting at the microstructural level and below) facilitating rapid mission team response and novel science. Phase I will demonstrate a system capable of imaging structures well below the diffraction limit of visible light (below 350 nm) concurrent with chemical identification of species via X-ray spectroscopy, at orders of magnitude lower cost, size, and weight than any existing EM system. Native tablet-based wireless control enables remote and concurrent multi-node use, mirroring current orbital mission control systems. The system will achieve TRL 6 and be subsequently improved to be flight-ready (TRL 8+) in Phase II enabling in situ sensing and observation for life support systems, engineering systems, and new science on ISS and Orion spacecraft. More »

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