A Compact, Low-Power Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer
Many hazardous gases that NASA needs to monitor on and around space vehicles during launch could be detected using mass spectrometers that need operate over only a limited mass range. But, stringent requirements of low weight and low power operation, plus the ability to tolerate high G-forces and excessive vibration prevent the ready adaptation of existing, commercial mass spectrometers to these applications. This Phase I SBIR project successfully tested a novel, compact, inexpensive, low power, time-of-flight mass spectrometer (TOFMS) for quantitative measurement of hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, oxygen, and argon. The key insight behind our approach is recognizing that a useful TOFMS can be built incorporating a short flight tube that is operated at low energies. Phase I proof-of-principle experiments provide the essential information needed to design and build a prototype instrument that will be delivered to NASA KSC at the end of Phase II. We anticipate that deliverable will meet most of the target parameters specified in the Phase I solicitation: operation between 2 and 40 amu; a measurement dynamic range of 1,000,000; less than 3500 cubic centimeter volume; and, less than 10 kg total weight.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Southwest Sciences, Inc.
1570 Pacheco St., Suite E-11 Santa Fe, NM 87505
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