High-Resolution Scanning of Sub-Surface Lunar Water with Mobile Neutron Energy Spectrometer

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC18P1952
Agency Tracking Number: 187122
Amount: $120,262.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: H2
Solicitation Number: SBIR_18_P1
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-07-27
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-02-15
Small Business Information
4615 Dwight Dr., Manhattan, KS, 66502-1417
DUNS: 078496852
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Steven Bellinger
 (785) 532-7087
Business Contact
 Steven Bellinger
Title: bellinger
Phone: (785) 532-7087
Email: bellinger@radectech.com
Research Institution

This proposal describes a mobile solid-state Neutron Energy Spectrometer (NES) for lunar soil moisture determination. Cosmic-ray interactions within the lunar soil will yield secondary neutrons and protons, among other particles. The produced neutrons will travel within the soil, scattering off of materials such as hydrogen. Interactions with hydrogen will greatly reduce the energy of the neutrons, causing a measurable depression of epithermal neutrons. A measurement of the ratio between thermal and epithermal neutrons can therefore yield an understanding of the hydrogen content of the soil.  A previous collaboration between Radiation Detection Technologies, Inc. (RDT), Kansas State University (KSU), and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has developed and produced an instrument which is capable of accurately measuring the hydrogen content of soil based on neutron emissions from the surface.  The TRL 3 instrument utilizes alternating layers of neutron moderator (HDPE) and solid-state neutron detectors, with each incremental detector layer more sensitive to higher-energy neutrons than the previous. The NES can effectively scan for water at the lunar surface from zero altitude, which allows for unmatched spatial resolution. Proposed in Phase I, existing computational models will be refined and validated using the existing NES in real-world measurements. The updated computational models will be used to design a space-worthy instrument that will serve the purpose of determining the moisture content of the lunar soil. An early feasibility study will be conducted to determine what weaknesses exist in the present design in terms of survivability of the instrument under the worst of lunar conditions. In Phase II, the proposed assembly will be developed to TRL 6, wherein a roving prototype will be built and tested.

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

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