Principal Investigator – Patricia C. Hynes, Director of the New Mexico NASA EPSCoR Program and Director of New Mexico Space Grant Consortium.
Co-Investigator, Nancy Chanover, Department of Astronomy, NMSU
Co-Investigator, David Voelz, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, NMSU
Co-Investigator, David Alan Glenar, Planetary Systems Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Co-Investigator, Penelope J. Boston, Earth and Environmental Science Department, NMIM&T
This proposal seeks funds for the development and field testing of a point spectrometer based on acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) technology, for “quick look” in situ detection of organic species at millimeter size scales. Although a convincing case could be made for a stand-alone AOTF spectrometer, our intention is to develop an instrument that can be paired with a miniature Time-of-Flight Laser Desorption Mass Spectrometer (TOF-LDMS) (Fig. 1) and demonstrate its ability to prescreen samples for evidence of volatile or refractory organics before the laser desorption step and subsequent mass spectrometer measurement. This instrument development will merge the capabilities of two sensors with significant prior investment by NASA, and will result in a powerful tool for astrobiological exploration of our solar system.