- API data.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-07T17:39:46.000Z
<p>Future astrophysics missions require efficient, low-temperature cryocoolers to cool advanced instruments or serve as the upper stage cooler for sub-Kelvin refrigerators. Potential astrophysics missions include Lynx, the Origin Space Telescope, and the Superconducting Gravity Gradiometer. Cooling loads for these missions are up to 300 mW at temperatures of 4 to 10 K, with additional loads at higher temperatures for other subsystems. Due to low jitter requirements, a cryocooler with very low vibration is needed for many missions. In addition, a multi-stage cooler, capable of providing refrigeration at more than one temperature simultaneously, can provide the greatest system efficiency with the lowest mass. Turbo-Brayton cryocoolers have space heritage and are ideal for these missions due to negligible vibration emittance and high efficiency at low temperatures. The primary limitation in implementing Brayton cryocoolers at temperatures below 10 K has been the development of high efficiency turbines. On the proposed program, Creare plans to leverage recent developments in gas bearing technology and low-temperature alternators to realize a high-efficiency, low-temperature turbine. On the Phase I project, we will perform a proof-of-concept demonstration of the turbine technology at temperatures down to 4 K. On the Phase II project, we will build and demonstrate an advanced low-temperature turbine at temperatures of 4 to 10 K.</p>
The GAPS Experiment: A Search for Dark Matter Using Low Energy Antiprotons and Antideuterons. University of California, Berkeley Co-I.data.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-05T23:07:34.000Z
This is a Co-I proposal in support of the PI lead proposal entitled "The GAPS experiment: a search for dark matter using low energy antiprotons and antideuterons" submitted by Prof. Charles Hailey, Columbia University. Our proposed program would support the UC Berkeley tasks on the GAPS experiment as detailed in our task statement. The primary focus of this work in on the development and testing of the Si(Li) readout electronics and support of the flight program and scientific analysis.
Common and Configurable Flash LIDAR Sensor for Space-Based Autonomous Landing, Rendezvous, and Docking Missions, Phase Idata.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-07T17:39:35.000Z
<p style="margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in">NASA has identified Flash LIDAR as the key mapping, pose, and range sensor technology of choice for autonomous entry, decent, and precision landing (EDL) on solar system bodies and autonomous rendezvous and docking operations (RDO) for asteroid sample and return, space craft docking, and space situational awareness missions. Flash LIDAR sensors exploit the time of flight principle to produce real time scene range and intensity maps at video rates. Existing 3D Flash LIDAR sensors are custom-built for the specific mission. However, NASA has concluded that the majority of the Flash LIDAR emerging performance and size, weight, and power (SWAP) requirements for both of these mission sets are similar. This revelation provides the motivation to develop a common configurable Flash LIDAR sensor that can be tuned to the specific objectives and accommodation constraints for each mission. State of the art 3D Flash LIDAR Focal Plane Array (FPA) and laser advancements are needed to advance the common sensor architecture initiative. The goal of the proposed Phase I program is to identify feasible FPA and laser state of the art design and performance advancements which enable a subsequent Phase II common Flash LIDAR sensor demonstration</p>
SCEPS In Space - Non-Radioisotope Power Systems for Sunless Solar System Exploration Missions (Phase II)data.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-05T23:03:34.000Z
Stored Chemical Energy Power Systems (SCEPS) have been used in U.S. Navy torpedos for decades. The Penn State Applied Research Lab proposes to continue the study of applying this robust, high-energy-density concept to exploration missions that can't be powered by sunlight. Plutonium could be used, but its scarcity leaves many targets unexplored. In the NIAC Phase II study we will mature the Venus mission studied in Phase I and expand understanding of SCEPS for other targets. Testing will be done to determine SCEPS performance using CO2 as an oxidizer (Venus' atmosphere), and the Venus mission key risk areas addressed. Venus science goals will be revisited to prepare the Venus concept for the next level of study. Also, we will engage with the leaders in science planning for small bodies (asteroids and comets), outer planets (Jupiter's and Saturn's moons), and robotic missions to our own Moon and make a determination of the first, most high-impact use of SCEPS in space.
- API data.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-05T23:07:34.000Z
This is a Co-Investigator proposal for "STO-2: Support for 4th Year Operations, Recovery, and Science" with Prof. Christopher K. Walker (University of Arizona) as PI. As a participant in the STO-2 mission, ASU will participate in instrument design and construction, mission I&T, flight operations and data analysis. ASU has unique capabilities in the field of direct metal micromachining, which it will bring to bear on the STO-2 cold optical assembly, flight mixers and LO hardware. In addition, our extensive experience with receiver integration and test will supplement the capabilities of the PI institution during the I&T phase at the University of Arizona, CSBF (Palestine, TX) and in Antarctica. Both the ASU PI and student will also participate in data analysis and publication after the flight.
- API data.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-05T23:06:06.000Z
Many molecular species that compose the interstellar medium have strong spectral features in the 2-5 THz range, and heterodyne spectroscopy is required to obtain ~km/s velocity resolution to resolve their complicated lineshapes and disentangle them from the background. Understanding the kinetics and energetics within the gas clouds of the interstellar medium is critical to understanding star formation processes and validating theories of galactic evolution. Herschel Observatory’s heterodyne HIFI instrument provided several years of high-spectral-resolution measurements of the interstellar medium, although only up to 1.9 THz. The next frontier for heterodyne spectroscopy is the 2-6 THz region. However, development of heterodyne receivers above 2 THz has been severely hindered by a lack of convenient coherent sources of sufficient power to serve as local oscillators (LOs). The recently developed quantum-cascade (QC) lasers are emerging as candidates for LOs in the 1.5-5 THz range. The current generation of single-mode THz QC-lasers can provide a few milliwatts of power in a directive beam, and will be sufficient to pump single pixels and small-format heterodyne arrays (~10 elements). This proposal looks beyond the state-of-the-art, to the development of large format heterodyne arrays which contain on the order of 100-1000 elements. LO powers on the order of 10-100 mW delivered in a high-quality Gaussian beam will be needed to pump the mixer array – not only because of the microwatt mixer power requirement, but to account for large anticipated losses in LO coupling and distribution. Large format heterodyne array instruments are attractive for a dramatic speedup of mapping of the interstellar medium, particularly on airborne platforms such as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), and on long duration balloon platforms such as the Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory (STO), where observation time is limited. The research goal of this proposal is to demonstrate a new concept for terahertz quantum-cascade (QC) lasers designed to deliver scalable continuous-wave output power in the range of 10 to 100 mW or more in a near-diffraction limited output beam: a chip-scale THz quantum-cascade vertical-external-cavity-surface-emitting-laser (QC-VECSEL). We focus here on the development of a chip-scale version of size < 1 cm3 that oscillates in a single mode and can readily fit on a cold stage. The enabling technology for this proposed laser is an active metasurface reflector, which is comprised of a sparse array of antenna-coupled THz QC-laser sub-cavities. The metasurface reflector is part of the laser cavity such that multiple THz QC-laser sub-cavities are locked to a high-quality-factor cavity mode, which allows for scalable power combining with a favorable geometry for thermal dissipation and continuous-wave operation. We propose an integrated design, modeling, and experimental approach to design, fabricate, and characterize amplifying reflective QC metasurfaces and QC-VECSEL lasers. Demonstration laser devices will be developed at 2.7 THz and 4.7 THz, near the important frequencies for HD at 2.675 THz (for measurements of the hydrogen deuterium ratio and probing past star formation), and OI at 4.745 THz (a major coolant for photo-dissociation regions in giant molecular clouds). High resolution frequency measurements will be performed on a demonstration device at 2.7 THz will using downconversion with a Schottky diode sub-harmonic mixer to characterize the spectral purity, linewidth, and fine frequency tuning of this new type of QC-laser. This proposed laser is supporting technology for next-generation terahertz detectors.
- API data.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-05T23:05:12.000Z
<p>Augmenting JPL's next generation radio family, the Universal Space Transponder, with modules capable of advance radio science functions. This will allow future missions to peform additional science, such as bistatic radar and planetary radio astronomy, without the costs of full stand alone instruments.</p><p>The primary objective of this task is to demonstrate that it is feasible to augment the Universal Space Transponder (UST) product line with more advanced science capabilities that are extensible to many use cases. The UST is a next-generation software defined radio, currently in engineering model (EM) development. The architecture of the UST is designed expressly to be modular, with a stacked slice hardware design that enables accommodation of multiple frequency bands as well as software and firmware based functionality that are fully reprogrammable post-launch. The specific goals of this task are to develop and build prototypes of two different radio science and astronomy modules that can be integrated into the UST EM: a bistatic radar receiver slice and a low-frequency, planetary emissions receiver.</p>
- API data.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-07T17:39:50.000Z
<p style="margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in">Busek proposes to develop a new form of passive electrospray thruster control which will enable extremely fast thruster operations and thereby unprecedented minimum impulse bits. Busek’s BET-300-P thruster is under active development as a precision reaction control system (RCS) which will provide orders of magnitude improvements over state-of-the-art alternative attitude control systems (ACS) for CubeSats and small spacecraft. The low inertia of CubeSats combined with vibrational disturbances and resolution limitations of state-of-the-art ACS presently limit precision body-pointing and position control. Busek’s electrospray thrusters aboard the ESA LISA Pathfinder (NASA ST-7) spacecraft, recently demonstrated control of a proof mass location to within ~2nm per root Hz over a wide band. The BET-300-P, enhanced by exploitation of its high-speed dynamic response in this program, seeks to extend that success to small spacecraft platforms.</p> <p style="margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in">Passively fed electrospray thrusters are highly compact, including fully integrated propellant supplies, and are capable of ~100nN thrust precision with 10’s of nN noise. Thrust can be accurately throttled over >30x, up to a scalable maximum of 10’s to 100’s of uN. While typically operated in largely continuous states they are unique in that emission can be electrically stopped/started at ms time scales. Thus, extremely low impulse bits may be achieved over very short durations, permitting throttling from <0.1uNs up to 100’s of uNs. Realization of this fundamental capability of the technology is presently limited by control circuitry. The proposed work seeks to study and overcome these limitations with a new control methodology.</p> <p>These traits, combined with >800s specific impulse, and thereby low propellant mass could enable these systems to replace traditional reaction wheel ACS and high-propellant mass cold gas systems; enabling milliarcsec control authority for CubeSats versus the present arcsec level SOA.</p>
- API data.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-07T17:48:05.000Z
InVADER will study underwater hydrothermal systems at Axial Seamount, the largest and most active volcano on western boundary of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the coast of Oregon. The vents at the Axial Seamount generate chemical energy which can sustain life, and are high-fidelity analogues to putative vent systems on Ocean Worlds. Our investigation will include in-situ observation, real-time data gathering and interpretation, and sample collection, analysis, and return. To support these efforts, we propose a research program with three main goals. Goal 1 - Science: Characterize the geochemistry, geobiology, and metabolic activity in Axial Seamount as an analog for planetary exploration. We will identify active microbial metabolisms in hydrothermal environments through in-situ and laboratory analyses of returned samples. In parallel, we will characterize the mineralogy, hydrothermal fluid characteristics, and geological context of vent systems. Goal 2 - Science Operations: Validate science operations strategies, adaptive science data processing, and instrument control. We will: perform laboratory LRS/LIBS/LINF measurements of hydrothermal fluid and mineral samples; test science operations and science planning strategies in the field; develop data fusion strategies for the synergistic visualization and exploitation of science data; and develop, test, and validate new exploration strategies based on in-situ laser sensing and sample coring. Goal 3 - Technology: Demonstrate InVADER's astrobiology technology. We will: performance-test InVADER with natural samples (both fluid and precipitates) from hydrothermal vent sites; deploy InVADER and perform in-situ analyses in Axial Seamount; develop routines for recording imaging and spectroscopic data, first level science data processing, and sample caching, analysis, and return. To implement these Goals, we will integrate and deploy an astrobiology payload that features a combination of rapid, in-situ, standoff analyses and sample coring instruments: stereo optical imaging; laser Raman spectroscopy, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, and laser-induced native fluorescence (LRS/LIBS/LINF); and a coring tool. Both the imaging and coring systems have been successfully tested underwater. The spectroscopy suite is a replica of an existing TRL 4 system for planetary exploration. We will install the payload into the OOI Cabled Array, a chain of power/data distribution nodes connected by subsea telecom cable. InVADER will integrate a payload containing 3D visual mapping and LRS/LIBS/LINF technologies into a divebot. This payload will enable standoff determinations of: a) relevant disequilibria in vent systems, b) composition and mineralogy of hydrothermal chimneys and associated precipitates, c) relevant small-scale features that are indicators of vent geochemistry and/or habitability, and d) the presence and distribution of organics. Thus, the project is relevant to PSTAR's overarching objectives and addresses multiple areas of Science, Technology, and Science Operations fidelity. While these vent characteristics can be analyzed using existing technologies, such analyses cannot, at present, be conducted simultaneously, in an autonomous, non-destructive rapid way. InVADER aims to fill these gaps, and advance readiness in vent exploration on Earth and ocean worlds by simplifying operational strategies for identifying and characterizing seafloor vents. We will integrate and apply a novel technology package for the search for signatures of life in extreme underwater environments, thereby addressing the call for "development and application of technologies that support science investigations ... and identification of life and life-related chemistry in extreme environments." Our team brings expertise in geochemistry, mineralogy, and astrobiology of hydrothermal systems, as well as ocean engineering, spectroscopy, robotics, science operations, and analog research.
- API data.nasa.gov | Last Updated 2018-09-05T23:06:53.000Z
The Europa Lander mission represents an enormous opportunity to capitalize on scientific discoveries at Europa by enhancing its planned exploration, toward a direct search for signs of life. The full understanding of Europa’s habitability will be established by the Europa Multiple Flyby Mission (EMFM). The EMFM payload, including highly capable imagers, spectrophotometers, mass spectrometers, and particle and wave sensors, will make critical observations of Europa’s subsurface ocean, its complex icy surface, and its surface-bounded exosphere to produce a clear picture of the extent and cycling of its water and chemical inventories. With this foundation, a follow-up lander will then be able to address hypotheses about key astrobiological markers in the icy surface. If deep plume activity is confirmed, the lander could potentially sample fresh, ocean-borne surface deposits for biosignature detection. With these ambitious objectives, relative to the timeframe for lander payload selection, it is absolutely imperative to focus attention on instrument technologies that both (1) address expected complex molecular detection and characterization requirements with exquisite sensitivity and specificity, and (2) are on a realistic technical path to compatibility with the extreme payload resource and environmental constraints of a Europa surface mission. We propose to mature a Europa-specific implementation of the Linear Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer (LITMS) investigation to meet these dual requirements in the search for signs of extant life. LITMS is a dual-ion source precision molecular analyzer derived from the substantial heritage of the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) investigation under development in our lab for the ExoMars rover. LITMS brings the power of both gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) and laser desorption mass spectrometry (LDMS) of solid samples to fine spatial scales (sub-mm) with its precision analyses. As on Mars, detection of complex organics at fine scales offers significant advantages in examining features key to distinguishing biogenic and abiogenic molecules, compared to bulk analysis. LITMS further provides enhanced capabilities, compared to MOMA, including detection of both positive and negative ions, a wider range of molecular weights (to over 2 kDa), and direct evolved gas analysis – all of which substantially increase the sensitivity of LITMS to the widest possible range of molecular organic biosignatures within their geochemical context. LITMS has been developed for the past three years with support of the MatISSE program, and will achieve TRL 6 for Mars surface operations at the end of this year. To re-achieve TRL 6 for a Europa lander mission focused on extant life, we will focus our COLDTech effort in three critical areas: (1) Refinement and validation of the precision sampling GCMS + LDMS operational modes for characterization of trace complex molecular biosignatures in cryogenic Europan samples; (2) Analysis, testing, and optimization of the appropriate LITMS hardware and operational mitigation approaches for the intense penetrating radiation at Europa; and (3) Design and development of a flight-like LITMS brassboard for Europa that (3a) rigorously meets PDR-level TRL 6 criteria, and (3b) enables a flight design demonstrably compliant with the most stringent planetary protection and contamination control requirements of the mission. Lacking a requirement to redesign the core LITMS analyzer, which has already been developed at flight scale and meets extremely challenging measurement requirements for Mars missions, our proposed COLDTech development is able to devote significant and necessary attention to the Europa-specific features to minimize technical and cost risk of an eventual flight model. With COLDTech support we anticipate that LITMS could be among the few investigations that would be fully ready for the challenge of contributing to direct detection of life on Europa.