In Situ Chemical Activation of Nanostructured Biosensor Arrays for Astrobiology Science

Grant #: NNX09AB23G
Senior Scientist: Richard Quinn

This project consists of the development of a micromachined device to chemically activate nanostructured sensor arrays in situ on Mars and on other planetary surfaces. The array design is compatible with small payload missions and multiple analysis platforms (e.g. optical, electrochemical). The technical and scientific functionally of the device can be demonstrated using an Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy Microelectrode Array Analyzer currently under development with NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II funding. The in situ NanoBioArray targets high priority science objectives for astrobiology including: characterization of environments for astrobiological sample selection, in situ measurement of chemical and organic biomarkers, in situ characterization of biomarker preservation, and in situ detection of extant life. The development of a time-of-use technology for sensor activation during planetary exploration enables the use of classes of sensors, which are currently shelf life limited, for astrobiological science investigations.