The NASA Earth Science Division is primarily concerned with studying how the global environment is changing and how such changes affect human civilization. The majority of these observations involve using satellite data to make measurements of key atmospheric species on the planetary scale. Such observations are critical in quantifying the ozone cycle, greenhouse emissions, the hydrological cycle, and aerosol formation (and the resulting radiative forcing). In order to verify and complement satellite data with better accuracy, faster time response, and higher spatial resolution, NASA seeks to develop innovative in situ sensors for these important gases. Moreover, in an effort to make such deployments more numerous, efficient, and cost-effective, these analyzers need to be highly accurate and deployable on unmanned aerial systems (UASs) and other small aircraft. The objective of this SBIR program is to develop and deliver atmospheric gas analyzers that are suitable for such platforms.
Besides its application to NASA, a compact, ultrasensitive gas analyzer also has significant commercial application. Through a series of strategic partnerships, LGR is developing a suite of analytical sensors to measure trace gases for environmental research laboratories, industrial process control monitoring, and military applications. The proposed work is essential in making these instruments more compact, rugged, and cost competitive, and will thus enlarge the potential market size significantly.