Goddard Planetary Instruments Win Development, Maturation Funding

Three instrument proposals led by researchers in Goddard's Solar System Exploration Division were selected for funding by the PICASSO and MatISSE programs. The PICASSO selection was "Development of a Prototype for the Thermal Infrared Composite Imaging Spectrometer (TIRCIS) Instrument," with Terry Hurford as the PI. Selected for MatISSE funds were the "Mars Lidar for Global Climate Measurements from Orbit (MARLI)" with James Abshire as the PI, and "Picture this SELFI: A Maturation Project for a Submillimeter Enceladus Life Fundamentals Instrument (SELFI)" with Gordon Chin as the PI.

PICASSO, the Planetary Instrument Concepts for the Advancement of Solar System Observations, supports the development of spacecraft-based instrument systems that show promise for use in future planetary missions. The goal of the program is to conduct planetary and astrobiology science instrument feasibility studies, concept formation, proof of concept instruments, and advanced component technology development; these correspond to technology readiness levels (TRLs) 1 - 3.

Hurford's proposed TIRCIS instrument is intended for simultaneous remote sensing of both the surface composition and temperature of icy airless bodies such as the moons Triton or Enceladus or the Trojan asteroids. To achieve this, the instrument would make measurements in both the mid- and far-IR, with the goal of mapping cryovolcanism, heat flow, composition and terrain.

The MatISSE, or Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration, program funds TRLs 3 - 6. The goal of this program is to develop and demonstrate planetary and astrobiology science instruments to the point where they may be proposed in response to future announcements of flight opportunity without additional extensive technology development. The proposed instrument must address specific scientific objectives of likely future planetary science missions.

Chin's team won maturation funding for SELFI, a passive remote-sensing submillimeter heterodyne receiver intended to investigate the composition, abundance, thermal structure and transport within Enceladus' plumes, and to characterize the source region and processes from which the plumes emerge.

Abshire's team received maturation funds for MARLI, a lidar being developed for simultaneous measurements of wind and dust profiles in the martian atmosphere. MARLI would provide a unique capability to observe these variables continuously, day and night, from a polar orbit.

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