HJ Science & Technology, Inc. proposes to develop a miniaturized and automated instrument that enables quantification and identification of environmental microbial contamination for long-term spaceflight missions. This technology supports NASA’s efforts in TX06 Human Health, Life Support, and Habitation Systems with a focus on microbial monitoring of their Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS). Our proposed instrument autonomously and rapidly concentrates and purifies cells from potable water, habitat surfaces, and air environments with same log10 level recovery efficiencies. As such, our instrument prepares elutions with sufficient cell densities for practical microbial quantification using established non-gene-based metabolic assays. Furthermore, our instrument integrates with emerging gene-based technologies utilized for identification of environmental microbes in spaceflight settings. Our novel ChargeSwitch Concentration and Purification (CSCP) technology is the key innovation to enable practical environmental monitoring by bridging the gap between large-volume sample inputs and small-volume analysis methods. In Phase I, we will adapt our CSCP technology to perform sample processing required to integrate samples collected from relevant ECLSS environments with T-ATP microbial assays and MinION sequencing. In Phase II, we will construct and deliver a fully integrated prototype that enables quantification and identification of environmental microbial contamination.
The proposed instrument is ideal to support NASA’s efforts in TX06 Human Health, Life Support, and Habitation System by enabling microbial monitoring of their ECLSS. Specifically, our CSCP technology enables highly sensitive, rapid, and real-time microbial monitoring for relevant ECLSS environments in order to better meet NASA’s inflight microbial acceptability limits. Ultimately, this instrument directly aids in achieving suitable habitation and life support systems for NASA”s astronauts in long-term spaceflight missions.
Our CSCP technology is ideal for monitoring environmental cleanliness in industries such as food processing, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare. These capabilities also naturally extend to pathogen detection within water and food supply chains. Compared to existing technologies, CSCP enables real-time microbial sensing for more timely decisions addressing compliance, supply chain, and human health.