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LACROSS: Life Analysis, Capture, and Retention on an Orbiting Saturn Spacecraft
Phone: (314) 695-6993
Phone: (314) 695-6993
We propose to build and critically test key subsystems of Life Analysis, Capture, and Retention on an Orbiting Saturn Spacecraft (LACROSS), an ultra-compact plume sample collection and analysis. LACROSS will conduct these analysis in-situ, directly on icy samples collected from the plume during fly-throughs. Thus, LACROSS addresses five of the six Technologies solicited by subtopic S4.06.LACROSS’ sample collection & management system utilizes an innovative architecture to a) collect particles using an angled-wall collector an b) analyze them in-situ, without the need for sample processing and concentrating. The collector funnels ice particles into plasmonic aerogel (Stardust heritage), where particles bury and slow down to a stop. The plasmonic aerogel enables ultra-sensitive (1 nM) SERS measurements of all particles that intersects the focus plane.LACROSS’ innovative approach to sample capture and analysis enables unprecedented in-flight sample collection and measurements of material freshly injected into space: in-situ chemical identification and quantitation of complex organic compounds, including pre-biotic compounds (e.g., amino acids); biomolecules (organic biomarkers such as proteins, lipids, and nucleic acid polymers); minerals; salts; volatiles.LACROSS will be a substantial technological leap with respect to existing or proposed sampling and/or analysis systems of Enceladus plume in the following key aspects: (1) it utilizes an innovative architecture to capture and transfer ice particles from plumes directly to a sensor that requires no moving parts, actuators, sample handling; (2) the multiplex integral-field SERS imaging approach features augmented science returns and reduced technical complexity relative to existing and proposed planetary Raman spectrometers; (3) LACROSS minimizes the resources and complexity required to capture and concentrate a sample and perform key investigations required to understand the habitability of Enceladus.
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