High Impact Chemistry: Design and Testing of an Icy Moon Penetratory Organic Analyzer

Organic analysis reveals the processes that shape an extraterrestrial location, including its potential habitability, and can provide evidence of extinct or extant life.  Many extraterrestrial locations, like icy moons and small bodies, are challenging to access with a soft lander due to the large differential velocities between the space-craft and the surface, lack of an atmosphere for aerobraking, and reduced gravity for “sticking” after landing. 

These drawbacks to traditional landed missions make kinetic penetrators an attractive mission platform. However, instrumentation capable of both organic analysis and surviving the 50,000 g accelerations of an impactor platform have historically been absent from our arsenal. 

In this work, we have developed an impact-robust optical stack for highly-sensitive laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) detection of amines and amino-acids labeled with the fluorogenic probe, fluorescamine.  A breadboard LIF system with 405 nm excitation was demonstrated to have parts-per-trillion detection limits for amino acids.  A microfluidic sample handling system uses hydraulic valves with an incompressible ionic liquid for actuation with linear actuators, which may improve impact resilience over pneumatically actuated microvalves. 

Components and integrated system were tested survived impacts at 12,000 g, 25,000 g, and 50,000 g. This talk focuses on the development of the hydraulic microvalves and the survival of key mechanical systems that enable the analysis.

Event Details

Date/Time:

  • Friday, November 15, 2019
    1:55 pm - 2:50 pm
Location: Room L1105, Ford Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T) Building, 311 Ferst Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30332
Fee(s): Free

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