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In Situ Water Isotope Analyzer for Moon Exploration

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
67 CONDESA RD SANTA FE, NM 87508-8136
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: In Situ Water Isotope Analyzer for Moon Exploration
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNX10CA95C
Award Amount: $600,000.00


Studying the isotopic composition of materials is an established method to obtain detailed insight into formation and evolution processes in our Universe. Water may play a dominant role in unraveling these processes. Isotope hydrology applied in situ on the Moon and other planets might develop into the key method to understand the history of our Solar system. The Moon provides unique opportunities to study trapped volatile compounds, like water, due to the special conditions at its poles. These conditions enable the long term storage of volatiles and preservation of their isotopic composition. A compact, precise isotope hygrometer operated on the Moon will be an invaluable tool if abundant water sources are found on the Moon in the LCROSS mission. This project seeks to develop a highly sensitive, portable water isotope ratiometer for precisely measuring water samples in situ on the Moon. The optical sensors developed on this project will have unique features including fast response, high precision and strong species selectivity. Design criteria such as a small footprint, low weight, low power consumption and continuous sensor health monitoring will be implemented to optimize the sensors for application to the Moon. An absorption approach using modulation techniques will be implemented on a lunar mission suitable platform.

Principal Investigator:

Joerg Kutzner
Principal Investigator

Business Contact:

Jeffrey S. Pilgrim
Business Official
Small Business Information at Submission:

Vista Photonics, Inc.
67 Condesa Road Santa Fe, NM 87508

EIN/Tax ID: 200051259
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No