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Rugged multigas sensor for planetary missions, Phase I

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Mesa Photonics proposes an optical gas analyzers suitable for planetary and lunar missions that will be smaller, more rugged, and more reliable than existing technology. These are point sensors for measurements within planetary atmospheres or for analysis of gases collected during lunar activities. Target gases include CH4, CO2, CO, NH3, O2, C2H2, C2H4, H2S, and H2O. The innovation uses optical absorption spectroscopy at near-infrared wavelengths. Sensitivities will range from 2 ppm for H2S (in a 101 kPa mixture) to less than 1 ppb for HF. Instruments will weigh less than 3kg, be under 1 liter in volume, and draw less than 10W. Power consumption could be as low as 3W depending on platform temperature stabilization. The Phase I project will test the new technique by (1)assembling and testing instrumentation electronics, (2)measuring detection sensitivity, precision, drift, linearity and dynamic range using CH4 as a representative gas, (3)develop a numerical model of the technique, and (4)determine the expected physical and performance specifications for instruments that could used on planetary missions and lunar deployment. Based on the most recent decadal survey, possible planetary missions include a dropsonde for studying the atmosphere of Venus, analysis of trace gases in the Martian atmosphere, characterization of atmospheric composition of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and a dropsonde into the atmosphere of Uranus. More »

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