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Lab-on-a-Chip Development for Planetary Exploration
Date: Monday, February 7, 2011 Time: 4:00 PM Location: 125 Steele, Caltech Speaker: Peter Willis
Kavli Nanoscience Institute / Microdevices (KNI-MDL) Lab Seminar
A number of NASA’s highest-level science goals, including the search for life, are best addressed by performing chemical analyses in situ. In many ways, this chemical exploration of the solar system has just begun. Particularly interesting robotic measurements have been recently acquired on both Titan and Mars that set the bar for the next generation of chemistry instrumentation. Miniaturized lab-on-a-chip chemical analysis laboratories have the mass, volume and power requirements that make them ideal for this application. In this talk I will present a brief overview of our efforts in this context. We focus our efforts on instruments for the payloads of two mission concepts: a floating lander that splashes down in a lake on Titan and sips samples from overboard, and a wheeled rover that acquires Martian samples with a drill. These explorers aim to unravel the rich prebiotic chemical syntheses that take place on Titan, and determine whether current or past life exists on Mars.