Miniaturized, Low Power Cryogenic Inlet System with Sampling Probes for Titan
Thorleaf Research, Inc. proposes to develop a miniature, low power cryogenic inlet system with sampling probes for Titan. This addresses a key technology gap for planetary studies, mainly how to acquire and prepare complex cryogenic samples of astrobiology interest for in situ analysis while meeting challenging mass, volume and power constraints. Although miniaturized mass spectrometers and other low power instruments are under development by NASA for in situ measurements, the great potential of such instrumentation for exploration of the Solar System will not be realized without complementary developments in the technology for collecting and preparing samples for analysis. Our proposed approach is designed to collect surface samples at Titan's 94K (-179C) cryogenic temperatures using probe designs both for surface penetration and for collecting dust or particles. The samples, which are presumed to include hydrocarbons, nitriles, tholins and other materials, can then be pyrolysed or otherwise thermally processed to prepare them for chemical analysis by GC/MS, GC/IMS or other techniques. The goal of our proposed SBIR Phase I effort is to demonstrate feasibility for a miniature, low power cryogenic inlet system with sampling probes, and to develop a detailed design for fabricating prototype instrumentation in Phase II.
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Thorleaf Research, Inc.
5552 Cathedral Oaks Road Santa Barbara, CA 93111
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