NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Science Instruments for Conducting Solar System Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE:Hybrid LIBS and Raman Spectroscopy Standoff Detection System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Physical Optics Corporation
20600 Gramercy Place, Building 100
Torrance, CA 90501-1821
(310) 320-3088

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Naresh   Menon
20600 Gramercy Place, Building 100
Torrance, CA  90501-1821
(310) 320-3088

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
To address NASA's need for an instrument for robotic in situ geochemical exploration of the solar system, Physical Optics Corporation (POC) proposes to develop a new hybrid Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) and Raman Spectroscopy (LIBRA) standoff chemical analysis system. This 0.03 m^3, <10 kg, <15 W passively cooled system will offer high specificity in trace chemical detection through LIBS/Raman sensor fusion to minimize false alarm rate (<1 in one million). Its hermetically sealed, monolithic, space-qualified design will ensure the survivability of LIBRA through launch and extended operation on planet surfaces. In Phase I, POC demonstrated the feasibility of LIBRA by assembling and testing a proof-of-concept tabletop (0.020 m^3 sensing head; 0.025 m^3 power supply) prototype with a technology readiness level (TRL) of ~4, capable of up to 5 m standoff detection and identification of inorganic, organic, and mineral samples, including compounds associated with the origins of life, of interest to NASA solar system exploration missions. In Phase II, POC will optimize the system design and develop and fabricate a fully functional LIBRA prototype system to meet the needs of NASA solar system exploration programs. Prototype test data will lead to an engineering design for a space-rover-operable prototype.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In the LIBRA system NASA will have a versatile, compact, rugged, low-cost system that can be deployed on multiple planetary exploration missions and exploratory platforms for rapid in situ material and elemental analysis. The standoff capability enables it to analyze solid, liquid, and gaseous samples with no firmware changes. No single system offers the capability for such a large variety of geochemical analyses today. This system will have applications in terrestrial geochemical analysis for NASA's earth science programs. Its standoff capability can be used for process control feedback in space manufacturing operations. The high specificity low false alarm rate system will benefit contamination monitoring in space and terrestrial habitats. The ability to identify organic compounds will make this system an invaluable tool for biochemical analysis in space. Its ability to detect and identify almost any chemical will result in replacement of a number of chemical analysis instruments with a single LIBRA system, which will reduce space, weight, and power consumption in space habitats.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The LIBRA system will usher in a new generation in standoff chemical detection. Although ideally suited for testing solid geochemical samples, the system can be adapted for liquid and gaseous sample testing as well. LIBRA can be applied to field detection and analyses for environmental, medical, and homeland security applications. The compact system is a portable, user-friendly package, capable of performing laboratory-quality analysis. Military applications of the LIBRA system will include any program that has a use for standoff spectroscopy; the LIBRA can be incorporated, for example, by the Special Operations Command into their suite of chemical/biological detection tools for forward theater troops. It can be added to the sensor suites of UAVs such as Global Hawk to determine the compositions of objects. Almost any ground troops entering or surveying a city would benefit from LIBRA system technology.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.


Form Printed on 07-25-06 17:04