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Ocean Life Detection on Alien Worlds

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX17CC36P
Agency Tracking Number: 174198
Amount: $123,949.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: S1.11
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2017
Award Year: 2017
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2017-06-09
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2017-12-08
Small Business Information
696 Amity Road
Bethany, CT 06524-3006
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Joseph Bango
 Principal Investigator
 (203) 393-9666
Business Contact
 Joseph Bango
Title: Business Official
Phone: (203) 393-9666
Research Institution

This proposal is in response to NASA's request for technologies that can enhance the detection of life in alien oceans. As stated in the call, the Technologies for Detection of Extant Life subtopic seeks instruments and component technologies that will enable unambiguous determination of whether extant life is present in target environments on other solar system bodies. Because there is no single measurable signature of life, this will require advances in a variety of areas, from those involving sample processing to the detailed components of chemical and optical instruments. Searches for extant life can take place in a variety of environments, including ocean depths, ice sheets, dry deserts, seasonal flows, or even dense atmospheres; technologies are required for handling samples obtained from any or all of these environments. Preprocessing technologies required for those samples may include separation, concentration, dilution, drying, staining, mixing, and many other common processes for laboratory analysis, but which must be done in a remote, autonomous environment. Tests of whether a given sample contains or indicates the presence of extant life include the full range of microbiological and chemical techniques, but those that do not require the addition of potential biomarkers (e.g., complex organics) as part of the test are preferred. We have spent he past 5 years developing a novel means of capturing and concentrating organic molecules onto specialized graphene surfaces, available for later detailed analysis. The adaptation of this technology could offer a new avenue for the detection of key organic elements in ocean environments that contain many background elemental noise sources.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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