NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 S4.02-8070
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Extreme Environment and Aerial Mobility
PROPOSAL TITLE: High-Temperature/Pressure Sampling System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Honeybee Robotics Ltd.
204 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY 10012-4236

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jerri Ji
204 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY 10012-4236

The National Research Council's Decadal Study released in July of 2003 recognizes Venus as an important and probable target for a New Frontiers mission within the next decade. NASA's New Frontiers missions are directed towards answering key scientific questions regarding planetary formation and evolution. Specifically, by drilling and taking in-situ measurements on Venus, insight into what global mechanisms affect the evolution of volatiles on planetary bodies, why the terrestrial planets evolved so differently from each other and how these processes operate and interact, will be gained. Honeybee proposes to develop a concept for an arm-deployed high-temperature/pressure (HTP) sampling system capable of drilling to a depth of 30-cm or more and quickly acquiring multiple core and/or unconsolidated samples from selectable depths. A Phase I award and subsequent Phase II award will bring a high-temperature/pressure sampling system to sufficient Technology Readiness Level in time for proposal of a landed Venus mission in the next round of New Frontiers solicitations. Funding under this year's SBIR program would be a critical step in the development of a flight-ready sampling system for inclusion on a Venus landed mission to be launched by 2011.

Honeybee Robotics anticipates that the high temperature, high-pressure drill proposed here will have a number of applications for future NASA missions. The New Frontiers mission in particular has recognized Venus as a possible mission destination within the next decade. For such a mission, the proposed drill will be essential for in-situ observations and measurements. Aspects of the technology may also apply to other extreme environments, such as the surface and subsurface of Europa, Titan, Mars' polar latitudes, comets and asteroids, and even the lower altitude regions of the gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, etc.)

The primary application identified by Honeybee Robotics is within the energy industry. Accessing natural gas at depths beyond 15000 feet, for instance, is beyond the current state of the art of terrestrial deep drills. One of the prohibitive aspects of this deep drilling is the risk associated with the high-temperature and high-pressure strata encountered at such depths. The work proposed here directly addresses this issue.