In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is a key NASA initiative to exploit resources at the site of planetary exploration for mission-critical consumables, propellants, and other supplies. The Resource Prospector mission, part of ISRU, is scheduled to launch in 2020 and will include a rover and lander hosting the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE) payload for extracting and analyzing lunar resources, particularly low molecular weight volatiles for fuel, air, and water. RESOLVE contains the Lunar Advanced Volatile Analysis (LAVA) subsystem with a Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS). RESOLVE subsystems, including the RP15 rover and LAVA, are in NASA’s Engineering Test Unit (ETU) phase to assure that all vital components of the payload are space-flight rated and will perform as expected during the mission. Integration and testing of LAVA mass spectrometry verified reproducibility and accuracy of the candidate MS for detecting nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The RP15 testing comprised volatile analysis of water-doped simulant regolith to enhance integration of the RESOLVE payload with the rover. Multiple tests show the efficacy of the GC to detect 2% and 5% water-doped samples.
Hydrogen is becoming an increasingly important fuel source as fossil fuel supplies decline. The low explosive limit of hydrogen makes leak detection a priority when dealing with this fuel. In an effort to support the use of hydrogen, a chemochromic sensor has been developed which is robust, simple to use, and does not require active operation. It can be made into a thin film or tape which can be conveniently used for leak detection at unions, valves, or outlets. There are two forms of the sensor, a reversible and an irreversible, allowing a variety of applications based on individual situations. The irreversible sensor is useful during hazardous operations when personnel cannot be present, while the reversible is ideal for monitoring the status of a leak in person or via a camera. Testing the irreversible sensor against environmental effects has been completed and results indicate this material is suitable for outdoor use in the harsh beachside environment of Kennedy Space Center. The environmental testing has led to increased sensitivity of the irreversible chemochromic sensor. In an effort to advance this technology further, this chemochromic sensor will be integrated into a sensor system using an electrical or optical signal.