Meet the team of SETI Institute engineers who are developing iSEE, a next-generation, ultra-compact Raman Spectrometer for planetary missions to the inner and outer Solar System.
iSEE Team from left: Cam Krueger (Software Engineer), Lia Schattner (Test Engineer), Patrick Sullivan (Systems Engineer), Jack Quire (Electrical Engineer)
iSEE (In-situ Spectroscopic Europa Explorer), is a small, versatile tool that brings the capabilities of Impossible’s NASA-proven laser technology off planet to analyze large areas of alien terrain without a human operator. This allows for on-the-fly, automated analyses and makes iSEE extremely attractive for the future exploration on small landed or fly-through spacecrafts.
“iSEE will provide us with the ability to explore and study the makeup of matter and materials on other worlds without needing to physically collect a sample and store it,”explains Cam Krueger, the iSEE Team's Software Engineer.
One of the most exciting measurements iSEE will help NASA obtain is on fly-through missions of liquid plumes on ocean worlds like Enceladus. After the wealth of data obtained by Cassini, it’s clear that the search for life and the study of Enceladus’ habitability requires direct compositional analyses of plume particles including the characterization of organic compounds in the plume, the search for biosignatures, and other “signs of life”.
ISEE's system will be able to conduct all these analyses directly on icy samples collected from the plume, or on aqueous solutions derived from plume particles. Thanks to the small mass, volume, and power requirement of the instrument, it could be mounted to a future spacecraft that collects plume particles during fly-throughs or orbits.
Patrick Sullivan (Systems Engineer)
iSEE Systems Engineer, Patrick Sullivan, says its wide range of functionality is key for such missions.
“The capability to do Raman spectroscopy in so many different places for such a small amount of mass, power, and thermal allocation is what makes it important,” he says. “The ability to do this sort of science allows us to get samples from all over, and who knows what we’ll discover.”
Not only is this small group of engineers excited to be working on breakthrough technology that is advancing the search for life, a strong sense of unity has developed among the team in their day-to-day interactions.
Cam Krueger (Software Engineer)
“My positive relationships and camaraderie with my team members has made working on this project, and for Impossible, all the more rewarding,” Cam states. “I look forward to seeing them when I come in every day.”
The iSEE Team is being supported by Impossible Sensing through Founder Pablo Sobron’s continuing work with SETI Institute, who is funding this exciting research in an effort to expand the search for signs of life off-planet.