Title of Presentation: The Contained Sample Handling and Analysis System (CSHAS)

Primary (Corresponding) Author: Joe Parrish

Organization of Primary Author: Payload Systems Inc., Cambridge, MA

Co-Authors: Christopher Krebs, Marco Serra, Dr. Liping Sun


Abstract: The CSHAS system is intended to support the handling and analysis of Mars returned samples in a Sample Receiving Facility. CSHAS builds upon prior efforts for spaceborne cell culturing systems, incorporating new technologies from related fields such as biomedical devices and semiconductor manufacturing.

Our approach is to use the NASA Cell Culture Unit (CCU) as the basis for a new instrument for automated handling and analysis of a subset (e.g., fine particles) of the sample. The CCU, an autonomous bioreactor habitat being developed by Payload Systems Inc. for NASA, was developed for use aboard the International Space Station. The CCU has several features — including sample segregation and containment, automated sub-sampling, video microscopy, thermal conditioning, environmental sensing, etc. — that are applicable for use in returned Mars sample handling and analysis. Our effort is adapting the CCU flight system for use on Earth to perform analysis, testing, preparation and other functions in support of defined Mars returned sample handling and analysis protocols.

Our technology development effort focuses on: (1) defining the specific role(s) for the CSHAS in the Mars returned sample handling protocols, (2) determining the needed modifications to the existing CCU design, (3) implementing the appropriate modifications through subsystem design modifications and component selection, and (4) the development of a breadboard system which is capable of demonstrating the applicable functions (e.g., sample handling, reagent addition/sample extraction, chemical and physical analysis, bioisolation) in a SRF-relevant laboratory environment. The result of this activity will be to bring the CSHAS technology to a maturity of TRL-4 (i.e., breadboard system in laboratory environment), setting the stage for follow-on efforts to advance the technology to TRL-6 (i.e., prototype demonstration in SRFanalogue environment).

The proposed development is responsive to a need for systems to allow testing and preparation of the returned Mars sample. The need to protect both the Earth’s population and the sample itself from contamination presents one of the most technically complex aspects of the MSR mission. The modified CCU proposed herein would significantly advance our ability to perform physical and chemical analyses, life detection tests, and biohazard detection tests and other analyses to reduce the risk and enhance the scientific return for this critical MSR operation. CSHAS is being developed under funding from the Mars Technology Program.