Chemical and mineralogical subsurface investigations have been limited to scooping and analysis of drill tailings (Viking, Phoenix, MSL), or crushing drill-core materials and subsequent delivery and analysis (ExoMars rover). This approach is resource-taxing, involving multiple mechanical interfaces. We propose to develop the Probe for Exploring Regolith and Ice by Subsurface Classification of Organics, PAHs, and Elements (PERISCOPE). PERISCOPE enables in situ subsurface measurements in a compact package with no moving parts, and provides spatially resolved mapping of three priority targets: 1) organic compounds relevant to astrobiology, including microorganisms, 2) water content and 3) rare-earth elements. In Phase I, we will assemble a breadboard composed of a UV fluorescence imaging spectrometer and a novel downhole optical probe, verify performance by testing on relevant samples, and design a TRL4/5 instrument that will be the baseline entry for Phase II.
PERISCOPE supports Mission Focus Areas articulated by NASA’s Planetary Science Directorate and responds to the 2013-2022 Decadal Survey priorities emphasizing the need for instruments to access the subsurface and for trace organic detection. PERISCOPE is highly relevant to subtopic S1.07 by addressing:
PERISCOPE is appropriate for SIMPLEx/Discovery scale missions and any mission whose priority goal is to search for organic matter and potential biosignatures, water in any form, or rare-earth elements, including lunar and icy environment surveying.
The PERISCOPE optical probe may be easily sterilized and therefore may have Planetary Protection applications. The optical probe can be positioned to examine spacecraft, instruments and optics in situ in a clean room, assembly facility, on the launchpad, or during flight to assess organic cleanliness.
PERISCOPE is applicable to deep ocean research, including resource exploration (oil & gas, mining) and diversity survey of biological material at depth.
PERISCOPE can identify and quantify organic species of interest in environmental logging and fluid and rock sampling.
PERISCOPE may be relevant in epidemiology and contamination event response to determine surface cleanliness on unprepared surfaces.