This proposal addresses the need for spacecraft microbial monitoring for long duration human missions. The proposal will lead to a near-real-time in-situ reagentless sensor on the International Space Station (ISS) and for future spacecraft for human missions for detection and quantification of the microbial bioburden in potable water, air, and on surfaces. The MAIA (Microbial Assessment with In-situ Autofluorescence) instrument mitigates the challenges of current microbial detection methods being used by enabling an in-line, autonomous, reagentless method, with detection sensitivities down to a single microbial cell, and require minimal crew time. MAIA also limits the number of consumables needed for long duration missions.
During the Phase 1 proposal we migrated the MAIA methodology from TRL 2 to TRL 3 in six months by retiring risks of the critical items, demonstrated feasibility, and developed a design solution that will be implemented under this Phase 2 program. In Phase 2, a prototype MAIA instrument will be developed and tested for automated microbial analysis in water, air, and for surfaces. The MAIA instrument design and development will occur in 1.5 years with testing in the remaining 0.5 years. The rapid initial development is possible as we leverage the laser and detector components that Photon Systems has developed over the last 10 years under prior SBIR’s and BAA’s.
For the NASA related market opportunity associated with this SBIR proposal, Current methods of microbial monitoring are extensive and time-consuming. This technology will enable microbial monitoring for long duration human exploration for water, air, and surface analysis using a deep UV Raman and fluorescence as an in-line and autonomous solution. In addition the MAIA instrument can easily interface with fluidic analysis systems that are being developed for life detection.
The non-NASA commercial applications include microbial water monitoring waste water treatment plants, pharmaceutical industries, microbial air monitoring in clean rooms and hospitals, and microbial detection for hazard from biological threats. Current methods are extensive and time-consuming. MAIA is game-changing as it provides autonomous analysis in a manner that is presently unavailable.